The largest group of unionized nursing home workers ever to lobby the Washington legislature descended on Olympia Feb. 9, demanding an end to long-term care cuts and increased funding for nursing homes.
Then on Friday, we were told that legislators are likely to vote—this weekend—on health insurance exchange legislation that is designed to give all long-term care workers more control, quality choices and better protections when buying insurance.
At the capitol, SEIU Healthcare 775NW members from across the state let legislators know that cuts to both state and federal funding for their programs have left thousands of nursing home workers living in poverty and left our vulnerable seniors with inadequate care and insufficient staffing.
“We didn’t just tell legislators that the cuts must end, we offered solutions,” said Alicia Fletty, a new member from Vancouver, who along with other members talked with more than 30 Senator and Representatives as they came out of their respective sessions.
Members stressed three issues with legislators:
- Increasing the nursing home safety net assessment to the maximum in order to gain an additional $15 million in federal funds for nursing homes.
- Reform the nursing home payment system to ensure wealthy residents and nursing homes don’t receive higher rates that lower income elderly and disabled residents.
- Adequately fund our long-term care ombudsman program, so low-income nursing home residents have someone to advocate for them.
“I’m proud that so many nursing home workers came to Olympia to fight for quality long-term care,” said Donna Peake, who works at Pacific Specialty & Rehab Care in Vancouver. “Our hard work to build strength in the workplace paid off today. We stood together and made our voices heard.”