Rep. Bizzarro holds news conference to propose better wages and benefits for home health workers

 State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, joined fellow colleagues and members of the State Employees International Union today at a news conference to outline a plan in an effort to solve the long-term care crisis in Erie.

The group has proposed providing a decent living wage and affordable health care so a suitable home health care workforce stays in Erie and across the state

“Home health care workers play a critical role in maintaining the health of people they care for, such as people with disabilities and senior citizens. We need to do more,” Bizzarro said.

Bizzarro said more senior citizens would be able to continue living their life and keeping their dignity when living in their own home.

The union has proposed raising the wages of all Erie County home care workers to $15 per hour and to implement programs to provide quality health care.

According to SEIU, to meet the demand for home care by 2015, 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. In addition, it costs approximately $23,000 per resident to receive home care services under the Aging Waiver. In Erie County, $81 million is being spent on nursing home care, compared to $56 million on care at home.

In an effort to solve the growing crisis in long-term care, Bizzarro is working with home care workers, health advocates, AARP, the Centers for Independent Living and many other groups to strengthen home- and community-based care to make sure that seniors get the quality care they deserve and attract more people into the profession.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved -- seniors have the security of caretakers and workers won’t have to apply or public assistance to make ends meet,” Bizzarro said.