Over 140 non-profit community programs workers who are members of 1199 at different agencies around the state turned out for a public forum in Hartford on April 10th to testify about the increasingly unaffordable costs of health care – which puts Connecticut’s private providers, caregivers, and services for our clients at risk.
Our message was simple: as direct care workers in Connecticut’s group homes and not-for-profit agencies, we are overworked and underpaid. The State of Connecticut has not provided a Cost of Living Increase in over 4 years, while the cost of our medical benefits has increased each year. We can’t take the crunch any more and we are suffering. Here is the video from the forum, courtesy of CT-N.com:
In addition to hearing workers’ testimony, the Public Health Committee heard a presentation outlining the findings of a report prepared by the Connecticut Health Policy Project and commissioned jointly by 1199 and several non-profit provider agencies. The study details several facts that those of us providing care on the frontlines already know all too well:
- CT health insurance premiums grew by 60% or more between 2004 and 2010
- State funding to DDS private group homes has been flat over the last two decades, squeezing health costs and wages
- Wages for direct care workers at private group homes do not meet CT self-sufficiency standards
- Over 60% of private providers report reducing employee benefits and/or their contribution toward health benefits in the last year to save money
- Most private group home workers are part-time and ineligible for health benefits…[But] of those who are eligible, more are waiving benefits [and] many are turning to Medicaid for coverage as their low wages make them eligible
Health care workers can no longer afford medical coverage for ourselves or our children, and we can no longer make ends meet. We have to continue pushing forward and raising our voices — for ourselves, our clients & our families!