Commentary - Let's Bridge the Gap Between Workers' Wages and Quality Home Care



State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro





                                     Let’s bridge the gap between workers’ wages and quality home care


According to Webster’s Dictionary, the medical definition of a home health aide is a trained and certified health-care worker who provides assistance to a patient in the home with personal care (like hygiene and exercise) and light household duties (like meal preparation) and who monitors the patient's condition.

That’s a pretty big responsibility for health care professionals who barely get by financially and often times need to rely on public assistance as an income supplement.

That’s right. Home care workers who play a critical role in maintaining the health of the people they care for in Erie and across the state are in need themselves of a living wage and affordable health care.

It seems a bit ironic that a state with the fifth-highest senior citizen population, 65 and older, would be the same state that doesn’t adequately pay its home health workers – or for that matter, provide them with decent health care.

By 2030, one in four Pennsylvanians will be 65 or older, and nine of 10 seniors want to receive quality health care at home for as long as they can.

Our state doesn’t have enough home care attendants to meet growing needs because they keep leaving the profession, and without improvements to strengthen home- and community-based care, the situation could reach crisis mode.


Pennsylvania is ranked 12th in the country in Medicaid nursing home costs, at a cost of roughly $60,000 per resident.  That same person with in-home assistance would cost approximately $23,000. 

Let’s face it, with an adequate home health care workforce, senior citizens would be able to continue living their lives and keeping their dignity by living in their own homes, sleeping in their own beds and enjoying comfortable surroundings. 

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.

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

When are we as Pennsylvania lawmakers going to fully recognize these workers and implement programs to provide quality health care, expand home care options and reduce workforce turnover?

There is no doubt that in-home patients wait, on a daily basis, for the arrival of their vital home health care worker.

We have seen it in our legislative districts and all across the state. How many times have we been to the doctor’s office and bumped into one of our constituents who was being transported to a medical appointment by the home care professional?

Raising to $15 the hourly wage of home care workers in Erie County and across Pennsylvania would allow good workers to stay in our county and state, and enable them to earn a family sustaining living without the need for public assistance.

Over the years, caregivers’ responsibilities have grown. We need to finally bridge the gap between worker wages and quality home health care in Pennsylvania.


Rep. Ryan Bizzarro

State Representative

3rd Legislative District



CONTACT: Roseann Cadau

House Democratic Communications Office
Phone: 717-787-7895

CONTACT: Roseann Cadau

House Democratic Communications Office
Phone: 717-787-7895