Union Home Care Workers Win 7.5% Increase in Hazard Pay
All home care workers protected by District 1199’s union contract with Connecticut’s Department of Social Services and Department of Developmental Services will receive a lump sum of hazard pay in the amount of 7.5% for all hours worked in the months of April, May and June 2020.
The agreement between District 1199 and the State of Connecticut to address hazardous duty due to COVID-19 was signed on July 13th, 2020. Payments are expected to be delivered to workers on or before August 12th, 2020. The union contract with the state’s Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council covers 10,000 independent home care providers through DSS’s and DDS’s Medicaid waiver programs.
“For months, our members have been actively and vocally working to secure hazard pay. We are incredibly proud to have secured a 7.5% compensation in hazard pay that recognizes the risks that workers have assumed through the pandemic,” said Rob Baril, President of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU. “We look forward to a swift implementation and clear communication by the agencies involved to these brave workers.”
Despite the historic nature of this agreement, the Workforce Council has opted out of communicating this important development directly to workers. To our great concern, the Union has received notification from workers that Allied Community Resources, the fiscal intermediary in charge of payroll for thousands of home care union workers, first told them that hazard pay was capped at 5% and then later told them that no hazard pay will be issued. As we have witnessed with other issues surrounding this pandemic, failures in communication leaves workers in limbo without access to clear information.
“We’re proud of the hazard pay agreement we’ve secured. But throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen the Workforce Council wash their hands of their responsibility toward the 10,000 homecare workers, like me, who support our consumers to live independently at home. Not only does the state refuse to give equal access to us as caregivers to request and receive PPE, but it won’t even send us a corrected notice of the hazard pay agreement between the state and our Union,” said Kara O’Dwyer, a home care worker from West Haven. “As usual, we’re left to our own devices to scrutinize conflicting information received from Allied and our consumers. This program is set up, funded, and administered by the State of Connecticut, and the Workforce Council should take responsibility to communicate directly with us as we continue to work tirelessly on the front lines to support our consumers, who are exposed to high risk during this pandemic.”
Deadline to Apply for Provider Relief Funds is Friday, August 28th!
The federal government is providing payments to Medicaid providers, including PCAs, for COVID-19 related costs. This can include lost income (due to fewer hours because of COVID-related issues), new expenses for things like PPE, child care or transportation that are COVID-related–or any other costs to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19.
We had expected the state of CT to apply on behalf of PCAs, but they have refused to do so, and thus PCAs will need to apply individually. To do this, you must use the application portal on the HHS website. It is a multi-step process, but step 1 of the application (the TIN Validation process) must be completed on or before Friday August 28th.
Please be advised that this information is to provide informal guidance to the 1199 membership on how to apply for Provider Relief Funds if you so choose but does not constitute legal advice. Note the following:
- For Step 1 (the TIN Validation process) due August 28th, you must use the application portal to create an ID to log in to the application process. See here for Step by Step instructions including screenshots
- For future Steps (after the TIN Validation process), you’ll need to do the following. See here for the overall steps
- Upload your most recent tax form (from 2019, 2018, or 2017)
- Say how much of your total income came from payments for PCA services (for instance, if all income came from PCA work, then you would say 100%). The amounts may already appear in the application form, or you may need to provide them.
- Provide an estimate of any additional costs you have had or expect to have in the future, or any loss of income due to COVID-19 (for instance, if your hours were reduced because of a COVID-related issue. These can be estimates and do not need to be exact.
- Note that most of the application is targeted to agencies and institutional providers. You do not need to answer these questions (just write NA).
Finally, you can get additional information on the application process at the links below. Note there is a number to call for support – 866-569-3522.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration has developed a Fact Sheet on how providers can apply for the PRF – https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/provider-relief-fund-medicaid-chip-factsheet.pdf – which includes a toll-free number, 866-569-3522, to call for support.
- There are also some general instructions that have been developed on how to apply for the PRF – https://chameleoncloud.io/review/3016-5ec704315a620/prod as well as a guide on how to confirm the information that is prepopulated with information entered during the TIN (Social Security Number for workers) validation process – https://chameleoncloud.io/review/3047-5edf10284b5fb/prod.
- The Department of Health and Human Services also has a website – https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/cares-act-provider-relief-fund/for-providers/index.html – which includes a webinar on how to apply for the PRF along with written instructions.
More PPE Distributed – & How to Request Additional Masks & Gloves!
Through our actions, we’ve pushed the State to distribute nearly 600,000 surgical masks and almost 300,000 pairs of gloves to our consumers for PCA use. The State has also now mailed 5 reusable cloth masks directly to every PCA. More PPE can be requested by PCAs or Consumers at Use Link Here – for DSS or Use Link Here – for DDS . (If you are unable to fill out the State’s forms for any reason, please contact the Workforce Council directly (PCACouncil@ct.gov or 860-418-6370).
Homecare, Nursing Home, & Group Home Workers Rally at the Capitol
On Thursday, July 23rd, hundreds of homecare, nursing home, & Group Home Workers rallied at the State Capitol to call on lawmakers to enact an Essential Worker Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights calls for:
1) Personal protective equipment for all who need it: the State must hold employers accountable and do better to protect our long-term care workers and patients.
2) Risk must be rewarded: Health care workers are essential and must earn a dignified and livable wage of no less than $20 per hour.
3) Care for caregivers: All essential workers should get the care they need during times of crisis, including quality affordable health insurance, paid sick leave, and childcare.
4) Fund our services by increasing Medicaid funding, setting progressive tax rates for the wealthy, and holding corporations, millionaires and billionaires accountable for meeting their responsibilities.
The event also included a “die-in” representing the 16 long term care workers who have died as a result of contracting COVID on the job as well as the 3,000 patients lost to the pandemic.
Free Testing for Asymptomatic or Symptomatic PCAs
Please see below the links to the health center web sites. This is the best means to access FREE testing that does not require a doctor’s order, and is available to PCAs and other community members whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
http://thecharteroak.org/covid-19/ Charter Oak Health Center – Hartford. We also continue to have a testing site adjacent to our main site at 21 Grand Street in Hartford available Monday-Friday 8:30am–5:00pm.
https://www.staywellhealth.org/for-patients/coronavirus-testing Staywell Health Center – Naugatuck/Waterbury
https://www.chc1.com/covid-19-testing/ Community Health Center, Inc. – Hartford/Waterbury/Norwalk/Meriden/Stamford/Middletown/Danbury/New Britain/New London/East Hartford/Plainville/Wallingford/Groton/New Haven/Bristol
https://www.norwalkchc.org/ Norwalk Community Health Center – Norwalk
https://www.wheelerclinic.org/covidtesting Wheeler Clinic – Hartford/Bristol
http://www.chwctorr.org/ Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington – Torrington/Winsted
http://optimushealthcare.org/opthc/wp-content/uploads/Pop-up-Testing-Schedule.htm Optimus – Stratford/Trumbull/Bridgeport
https://www.genhealth.org/covid-19-testing – Generations – Willimantic
https://www.fhchc.org/coronavirus/ Fair Haven – New Haven
https://cornellscott.org/ Cornell Scott – New Haven
http://thecharteroak.org/covid-19/ Charter Oak – Hartford
https://www.ct-institute.org/covid-19-testing Connecticut Institute for Communities (Greater Danbury Health Center) – Danbury
https://www.ucfs.org/covid-19/ UCFS – Preston/Griswold/Norwich
http://www.swchc.org/testing/ Southwest – Bridgeport
https://www.familycenters.org/FamilyCentersHealthCare Family Centers – Greenwich
https://www.intercommunityct.org/2020/06/08/coronavirus-testing-for-adults-and-children/ Intercommunity – Hartford/East Hartford/South Windsor