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When we support caregivers as the essential healthcare workers we are, we also improve long-term care in Washington for generations.
Our 2023 Legislative Agenda details what we need to accomplish together during this Legislative Session to ensure that caregiving in Washington State is a good career and provides high quality care to our seniors and people with disabilities.
Beyond improving long-term care, we also support progress on issues that impact our lives, our families, our clients, and our communities.
SEIU 775 supports the following legislative priorities in 2023:
- Fully Fund the Home Care Rate to Raise Wages and Expand Benefits to Include Dependent Health Insurance
- Fully Fund Skilled Nursing Facilities with Accountability to Increase Wages for Low Wage Workers
- Advance the Creation of a Home Care Safety Net Assessment
- Support and Protect the Implementation of the WA Cares Benefits
- Increase Housing Stability and Affordability
- Unemployment Benefits for Undocumented Workers
- Reduce Police Violence and Increase Police Accountability
- Balance Our Tax Code by Taxing the Wealthy and Expand the Working Families Tax Credit
- Make Climate Investments to Support Environmental Justice, including Climate Resiliency for Vulnerable Populations and Overburdened Communities
- Create Staffing Standards for Hospital Workers
- Regulate Ergonomics for Safer Workplaces
Caregivers’ 2023 Legislative Priorities
Fully Fund the Home Care Rate to Raise Wages and Expand Benefits to Include Dependent Health Insurance
Washington needs to invest in making caregiving a good career, including a starting wage of $21 an hour and wages of at least $22-23 an hour for experienced workers, and expanding healthcare coverage to include dependent children.
We are in a care crisis where seniors and people with disabilities are waiting months without care because there are not enough caregivers in the workforce. The legislature must do everything possible to make caregiving a good job to start and to stay in.
“Caregivers are the first line of defense in our State’s healthcare system. But too often people don’t think of caregiving as a career. We have a high turnover rate, and young people aren’t coming into this field like we need them to. By fully funding the Home Care Rate, legislators will ensure we have the protections, pay, training, and benefits we deserve. Making caregiving a sustaining career retains today’s caregivers and attracts caregivers for the future.”
Brittany, Individual and Agency Provider, Burien
Fully Fund Skilled Nursing Facilities with Accountability to Increase Wages for Low Wage Workers
The Legislature must fully fund Skilled Nursing Facilities, including annual rebase, inflation, increased median, and update to the occupancy penalty to ensure sustainable wage increases for Skilled Nursing Facility workers. This must be paired with reporting requirements to ensure facilities are using funding increases to raise wages for low wage workers.
For over a decade, Medicaid funding for Washington’s Skilled Nursing Facilities has come up short leaving facilities underfunded, understaffed, and struggling. In 2021 and 2022, the Legislature made one-time adjustments to the rate that helped, including the low wage worker rate increase, which in Union represented nursing homes led to significant increases in wages, but we need this to be ongoing funding for the wage increases to be sustainable.
“We won wage increases in Union represented nursing homes, like mine, this year. It was the biggest raise I’ve ever seen and it fundamentally changed my life! But not everyone is making what I am. We are still facing staffing shortages and that affects our patient’s care. We need ongoing funding for wage increases and increased rates for nursing homes. The quality of the care and the quality of our jobs depends on the Legislature taking action.”
Shelly, Nursing Home Worker, Everson
Advance the Creation of a Home Care Safety Net Assessment
A Home Care Safety Net Assessment could maximize federal Medicaid investments, similar to how the Hospital Safety Net Assessment operates. To design and test an assessment proposal to meet federal requirements, the Department of Health needs authority to collect one-time financial information and direction to work with Health Care Authority, Department of Social and Human Services, Department of Revenue, stakeholders and experts on a proposal.
Home care investments are necessary to fix the workforce crisis, continue to improve caregiving careers, and expand training for working with clients with increasing complex medical needs.
Support and Protect the Implementation of the WA Cares Benefits
The Legislature needs to support and protect our WA Cares Benefits to ensure the people who need it will get their benefits as soon as they qualify, as early as 2026. Most of us want to stay in our homes as we age or face injury, illness, or disease. WA Cares, our nation’s first long-term care benefit, will give us the choice of staying in our homes by paying an aide or family member to help us.
The new State benefit will cover up to $36,500 (or more, indexed to inflation) of long-term care costs for workers in Washington with premium collections of $0.58 cents per $100 of payroll starting July 1.
Residents of our state, including caregivers, live multi-issue lives. We work in solidarity with community partners to fight for these priorities that advance economic and racial justice, regardless of if we’re Black, white, brown, or Indigenous, our gender, our abilities, or how much money we earn.
Increase Housing Stability and Affordability
Lawmakers need to support increasing housing options for the unhoused, low-income earners, and middle-class working families whose paychecks haven’t kept up with the costs of rent and mortgages. People are struggling to secure adequate, affordable housing near their jobs and in communities that support their families’ well-being. Support Homes4WA priorities that focus on stabilizing, subsidizing, and increasing the supply of affordable options for all Washingtonians.
“Everywhere I look in my community I see people struggling to afford a place to live because rent is just too high. My client’s entire family is struggling, with three adults and three kids squeezing into a small home. We ask the Legislature to add protections to keep people in their homes, and for funding to support affordable housing. It’s time we make sure everyone can afford a safe place to live.”
Vicki, Agency Provider, Vancouver
Unemployment Benefits for Undocumented Workers
Every Washingtonian, regardless of immigration status, should have access to unemployment benefits. It is unjust that undocumented and other immigrant workers are excluded from receiving the unemployment benefits that are a critical safety net in times of crisis.
“Workers who are undocumented are paying into our systems, like unemployment insurance, and yet they can’t access these critical benefits. Undocumented people do the hard labor, and often, the jobs nobody else wants to do. During the pandemic they were the ones putting food on our tables and they kept our country going when nobody else would do it. This is unfair and unjust. This safety net needs to be given to all workers, including those who remain undocumented.”
Nelly, Individual Provider, Sunnyside
Reduce Police Violence and Increase Police Accountability
Reducing police violence and increasing police accountability makes all of our communities safer and stronger, supports deeper community connection and promotes basic human rights. We support the WA Coalition for Police Accountability’s 2023 police accountability priorities, including traffic stops, Independent Prosecutor, AGO Authority Patterns and Practices, and Civil Right of Action.
Balance Our Tax Code by Taxing the Wealthy and Expanding the Working Families Tax Credit
Ensure the wealthy pay their share of taxes to fund vital services through new, expanded, or revised policies including, the wealth tax, estate tax reform, a high-earner employer payroll tax, updates to REET, and more.
Update and improve the Working Families Tax Credit, an enormous step toward balancing our tax code and supporting working families with direct cash assistance. In 2023, the benefit will be available to Washingtonians for the first time. We support updates to the bill to ensure good implementation and expanding benefits to adults over 18 (currently just 25 years old) who meet the requirements.
Make Climate Investments to Support Environmental Justice, Including Climate Resiliency for Vulnerable Populations and Overburdened Communities
SEIU 775 supports Front and Centered, the Blue Green Alliance, and the Environmental Priorities Coalition’s efforts to make meaningful investments in community climate and environmental planning, frequent and accessible public transportation, climate resiliency, energy justice, and green infrastructure and food systems.
Caregivers are on the frontlines of every climate emergency. Our clients depend on us to show up every day to ensure they have what they need to live. As major storms, heat waves, and wildfires become more regular, caregivers’ ability to navigate these climate emergencies will often determine how our vulnerable populations we care for end up.
Create Staffing Standards for Hospital Workers
Workers in the healthcare sector are suffering and hospital systems are no exception. Three years of pandemic crisis management were preceded by years of short staffing, leaving frontline healthcare workers burned out. Hospital standards should include nursing staff minimums, enforcement of overtime and breaks, and functional staffing committees. We must ensure that this critical workforce is able to meet our needs for care and is able to thrive in their own lives.
Regulate Ergonomics for Safer Workplaces
Too many workers in Washington State go to work every day without confidence that they will return home free from harm. Common sense improvements to health and safety laws can help make workplaces safer and prevent injuries.
L&I is prohibited by law from adopting common sense, injury avoiding rules due to a business-run initiative 20 years ago. The Legislature should allow L&I to adopt these regulations to avoid the biggest driver in workers’ compensation claims and costs – injuries due to musculoskeletal injuries and diseases.