Rep. Bizzarro outlines statistics on solving Erie's long-term care crisis

Solving Erie County’s Long-Term Care Crisis

In Erie County – much like the rest of Pennsylvania – a crisis in long-term care is holding back the health and security of seniors and people with disabilities and leaving caregivers struggling to make ends meet.

By 2030, one in four Pennsylvanians will be 65 or older, and nine of 10 seniors want quality care at home for as long as possible. At the same time, there are simply not enough home care attendants to meet the growing need for home- and community-based care. Many individuals are discouraged from becoming home care attendants because of low pay, lack of healthcare and limited – if any – training and support. As a result, two out of every five Pennsylvania home care workers leave the field each year. Home health aides in the state are paid an average $10.26/hour, and nearly half of the workforce relies on public assistance for food or healthcare.


In Erie County, more than 303,000 residents will be 65 or older by 2025. To solve the growing crisis in long-term care, home care workers, health advocates, AARP, the Centers for Independent Living and many others are working to strengthen home- and community-based care to make sure every seniors gets the quality care they deserve and to bring more people into this important profession.


Long-Term Care in Erie County

Without improvements to strengthen home- and community-based care, the care crisis will only grow worse in Erie County over the next 10 years. Here is snapshot of the current system of care – and what will happen by 2025 without change.



Erie County seniors

Home care workers on public assistance

Cost of public assistance to taxpayers

Cost of long-term care to taxpayers




$10.6 million/yr

$138 million/yr




$14.4 million/yr

$186 million/yr


To meet the demand for home care by 2025, Erie County will need over 950 more home care workers.

Pennsylvania currently ranks 12th in the country in Medicaid nursing home costs, roughly $60,000 per resident. Comparatively, it costs approximately $23,000 per resident receiving home care services under the Aging Waiver. Yet, in Erie County, we’re spending $81 million on nursing home care, compared to $56 million on care at home.





                                               Solving the Long-Term Care Crisis


Expanding the availability of home- and community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities and strengthening the workforce to meet the growing demand would:

  • Save Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars each year

  • Provide more seniors and people with disabilities with quality care at home

  • Help thousands of home care workers provide for their own families



Across the country, other states and communities have implemented programs to save taxpayer dollars, prove the quality of care, expand home care options and reduce workforce turnover.


Orientation and Training

Home care workers play a critical role in maintaining the health of the people they care for, and states across the country have seen improved health outcomes and significant cost savings through training programs.


A recent impact study from the California Long-Term Care Education Center found that training programs for home care providers reduced consumers’ emergency room visits and hospital admissions by more than 40 percent. The California program is estimated to save at least $12,000 per consumer through fewer hospital visits.


States like Illinois, Minnesota and Massachusetts also offer training programs, including on CPR and caring for patients with dementia, diabetes and depression.


Improving Pay and Healthcare

A living wage and affordable healthcare are essential to recruiting and retaining a skilled home care workforce. When home care workers in San Francisco won wage increases and comprehensive health coverage, the number of home care workers in the city increased by 54 percent and turnover fell by 30 percent. In Washington State, where workers won higher wages and a voice to advocate for consumers, seniors receiving this consumer-directed home care reported being happier than those receiving agency-directed care.


Raising the wages of all Erie County home care workers to $15 per hour would put an additional $3.6 million in the pockets of local families.