Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Coverage for Some Home Health Workers
Ending "months of debate," the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted to provide "basic health care coverage" to roughly 6,000 home health workers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the plan, set to take effect next January, home aides who work at least 112 hours per month, or 28 hours per week, will receive coverage. Still, the Times reports that the plan "covers only a fraction of the more than 30,000 in-home health aides who officials say are uninsured because most do not work enough hours to meet the threshold." Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke approved the measure, while Gloria Molina and Mike Antonovich abstained, saying "they did not agree with granting coverage to workers who logged so few hours while other county employees have to meet a higher threshold" (Los Angeles Times, 3/28).
Meanwhile, about 50 home health workers "packed" a meeting of the San Mateo Board of Supervisors yesterday seeking a $4 hourly wage increase, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Currently, the 1,900 "mostly part-time workers" who care for 2,400 elderly, disabled and low-income residents throughout the county receive $7.50 an hour and no vacation benefits, according to Myriam Escamilla of Service Employees International Union Local 715. County supervisors said they are "sympathetic" to the workers' request but say "their hands are tied until the state comes out with its revised budget in May." The push in San Mateo for better wages and benefits follows a Bay Area trend; in 1999, roughly 3,000 Santa Clara home health workers became the first in the state "to obtain health care benefits under a labor contract with their county," and workers in Contra Costa received a pay increase later that year. Workers in Santa Clara, Contra Costa and Alameda counties and in San Francisco now make more that those in San Mateo. The Chronicle reports that this disparity has led more San Mateo workers to commute to neighboring counties for work (Pence, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/28).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.