Aging U.S. Population To Cause Home Care Worker Shortage
The U.S. will require almost one million additional home care workers by 2017 and as many as three million more by 2030, according to experts, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
However, home care workers on average received less than $10 per hour in wages in 2005, and 25% lacked health insurance, according to the AP/Post-Intelligencer.
The Supreme Court this week also ruled that federal minimum wage and overtime laws do not apply to home care workers.
In response to the need for more home care workers, some states have begun to launch programs to provide them with health insurance and offer them training programs at local community colleges. In addition, states such as California, Vermont and Arizona have launched incentive programs or established special positions to address problems within the home care industry.
Gerry Hudson, a vice president of the Service Employees International Union, said, "If we are to avert a home care crisis, we must invest in living wages and health care coverage."
Robert Butler, president of the International Longevity Center-USA, said, "My impression is that baby boomers haven't really addressed the issues of aging yet -- they're more absorbed with how to avoid aging," adding, "We're facing a historic demographic change, and we do not have an adequate, well-trained work force -- from doctors down to basic in-home caregivers -- who know the details of aging" (Crary, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/15).
Home care workers need the support of federal labor laws "to ensure that the aides, entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable Americans, are treated with professionalism, fairness and dignity," according to a New York Times editorial.
In the Supreme Court case, the Bush administration, as well as the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "argued that federal labor protection for home health workers would drive up the cost of Medicaid and Medicare," the editorial states. However, "refusing to pay employees fairly for the work they do is not an acceptable way to keep costs down," according to the editorial.
The editorial recommends that Congress revise federal minimum wage and overtime laws to include home care workers (New York Times, 6/15).