Thousands of home care workers are pleading for the State of Connecticut to fund their health insurance stipend and paid time off benefits, after learning that the state’s initial application for matching federal dollars was denied.
State administrators from the Department of Social Services informed the Union that the federal funding application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was resubmitted Tuesday. In total, state funds add up to some $22 million for two years to pay for contract terms that were ratified by SEIU 1199NE’s Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) and fully approved by the General Assembly back in May. Additional funding in the amount of $28 million would be provided by the federal government.
“We can – and must – do better in Connecticut by home care workers whose daily labor of love is caring for people with mental and physical disabilities. Many Black, Latina and white working-class PCAs continue working without the basic human right to receive care. We look forward to a constructive dialogue towards resolving this crisis in the lives of thousands of Connecticut’s health care workers who are trapped in poverty,” said Rob Baril, president of SEIU 1199 New England.
The Union estimates that over 2,000 of the 11,000 PCAs covered by the contract would meet the stipend’s eligibility requirements to purchase health insurance in the exchange marketplace. Eligible PCAs working full time would receive $1,950 towards their personal health insurance payments. However, open enrollment closes December 15th for coverage beginning January 1st, and closes overall on January 15th. Thousands of PCAs may be locked out of purchasing health insurance for 2023 if the state continues to delay payment of the stipend. Without access to insurance, many PCAs will have to delay indispensable medical procedures or become disabled themselves.
“It’s so hard to feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff all the time. We are getting closer as PCAs in Connecticut to getting some justice in our jobs by getting access to decent health insurance and paid time off. Hopefully one day I will be able to go to the doctor when I need medical attention and not worry about all the bills in the mail. Having health insurance that is usable and affordable will make a huge difference in my life and my consumer’s life,” said Laurie Buzzanco, a PCA from East Haven who needs a second knee replacement. She is hoping to get her much-deserved health insurance while she tries to pay off thousands of dollars in debt from her last knee replacement. SEIU District 1199NE, the New England Health Care Employees Union, represents over 25,000 caregivers in Connecticut and some 4,000 in Rhode Island. Historically known as “1199” going back to the Civil Rights Movement, we are a bold, democratic Union with a long activist tradition fighting for racial and economic justice to improve the lives of Black, Latina, APII and white working-class communities.
Media Contact: Pedro Zayas, email@example.com, 860-830-2478
District 1199, SEIU, New England Health Care Employees Union