HOME HEALTH: Molina Recommends State Pay for Workers’ Insurance
Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina is sponsoring a measure that would require the state to pay health insurance benefits for publicly employed home care providers. Currently, their salaries -- $6.25 per hour -- are paid by a combination of federal, state and local monies, but they are not offered health insurance. Molina said, "The reality is that this will cost millions and millions of dollars. We are hoping the Legislature will look at it. The state is the one who benefits from the work these people do." Although the Board of Supervisors itself delayed a vote on the issue last week, the motion is expected to pass. Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke called the proposal "very controversial," adding, "It is an unusual role for us, but the state has taken on this responsibility. We are not going to be able to buy this as a county." And whether the state will have the funds necessary "remains to be seen," the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports. Encouraging, however, is that state legislators approved a salary increase for home care workers earlier this year. Assembly member Bill Leonard (R-San Bernardino) said that move "could have opened [legislators] up to this request." He added, "I just knew the counties would get it in their head for the state to pay for everything." But Assembly member Bob Pacheco (R-Walnut) said, "If it comes before me, I would look at it favorably. These people are underpaid. But I would have to look at the total cost." In the meantime, home care workers are pleased by Molina's suggestion. Tyrone Freeman, general manager of the county's Homecare Workers Union, said, "The irony is that [home care workers] provide health care, but don't have health care. You would never think that." The union is in the midst of producing a survey with the University of Southern California that examines home care workers' need for health care (Gotsch, 12/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.