Target: Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Goal: Improve benefits to home health workers in the United States
There are nearly two million home health care workers in the United States, most of whom work long hours with low pay. Home health workers perform vital work for their patients. Acting as trusted advisors to patients, they do everything from ensuring they take their medicine and bathing them to looking out for their safety and even doing household duties like cleaning dishes – all without time off or paid vacations.
In a recent report in NPR, two female home health care workers report that though their income indicates they are above the federal poverty line, they struggle to make ends meet, often lacking a retirement plan, life insurance or medical insurance of their own. Important to note from the NPR report is that out of the majority female home health workers, more than half are women of color, one in five are single mothers.
While many home health workers are in this line of work because they care about the people they look after, many are being forced to look for work with better wages and benefits. Yet, the Department of Labor estimates that the U.S. will require more than a million home care workers in the next decade. As “vital front-line personnel,” home health workers contribute to lowered costs down the line in reduced hospitalizations or returns to nursing homes.
We must push first for greater recognition of the vital contributions home health care workers make in the healthcare community and also for better benefits like higher pay and health insurance.
Dear Secretary Burwell,
I am writing to ask for your leadership in supporting home health care workers in the U.S. Many struggle to make a living doing hard work over long hours with low pay. Out of genuine compassion for the individuals they look after, home health workers perform vital services ranging from ensuring patients’ take their medicine to taking on some of the household duties like washing dishes. Though some home health workers may have incomes that place them above the federal poverty line, many have a hard time making ends meet, and often lack a retirement plan, life insurance or medical insurance.
I urge you to lead the way in recognizing the contributions of these individuals to the health care community. It is imperative that their benefits match the vital services they provide to patients. Investing in the future of home health workers also means reduced health care costs and better health care in the future in the form of reduced hospitalizations and returns to nursing homes. Please take this moment to consider how we might better care for those at the frontlines of our health care system.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ulrich Joho via flickr