Caregivers launch “You Clapped. Now Act!” campaign aimed at stopping cuts to long-term care and passing progressive revenue in Washington State
During the Washington State Legislature’s Committee Days, long-term care workers and allies across the State are demanding lawmakers stop any proposed cuts to long-term care and fix the state’s upside-down tax code.
Seattle, WA (12/3/20) – Today, long-term care workers are launching a campaign focused on stopping all proposed DSHS cuts to long-term care and passing progressive revenue in Washington State.
The You Clapped. Now Act! campaign will channel the energy of everyone who clapped for healthcare workers at the beginning of the pandemic, into advocacy for long-term care funding and progressive revenue.
“Being a caregiver means I can provide for my family, but any cuts to long-term care would be devastating for us. In October, my husband was laid off. We’re stretched thin,” said Brenda Morgan, a caregiver of 17 years from Pasco, WA. “This pandemic has taken so much from so many of us and I came close to losing my life from COVID-19. It took me five weeks to fully recover, and during that time, I never stopped thinking about my client.”
Long-term care workers – people who work in Nursing Homes and as in-home care providers – have always been on the frontlines of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic focused global attention on the Black women, women of color, and immigrants who make up the long-term care workforce as they work tirelessly and at great risk to themselves and their families. Long-term care workers have saved lives, kept people out of crowded hospitals, and helped Washington’s most vulnerable populations live their lives with dignity.
Heralded as heroes, 10,000 long-term care workers are now at risk of losing their jobs. DSHS’s proposed 2021-2023 budget cuts $1.1 billion dollars in long-term care services for the elderly and people with disabilities.
“My clients depend on me to get washed and dressed, eat, take their medications, and get to their appointments,” said Gail Blake a caregiver of 11 years from Spokane. “Without me, I’m not sure who they would turn to. For my clients, I’m not only their healthcare professional – I’m their connection to the world.”
The State’s pandemic-driven economic crisis is a moment to reassess our priorities – would we rather cut long-term care or turn the country’s most regressive tax system into a more progressive one.
“I have been a caregiver for 15 years and I’ve seen us go from being paid just over minimum wage to a starting wage of over $17 an hour. I pay almost 20% in taxes, but millionaires and billionaires pay way less,” said Olga Garcia, a caregiver from Sedro-Wooley. “It’s time for the richest people in our state to pay their fair share.”
The You Clapped. Now Act! campaign is asking the public to send letters to their State elected officials.
“With the proposed DSHS cuts looming, long-term care workers now have to worry not only about the pandemic, the people they care for, and their families, but also whether or not they will be able to keep their jobs,” said Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 President. “Any cut to long-term care funding in the middle of a pandemic is tantamount to neglect.”
DSHS Proposed Cuts Background
DSHS’s proposed 2021-2023 budget cuts $1.1 billion in long-term care services for the elderly and people with disabilities. For the people of Washington, these cuts mean:
- More than 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities will be kicked off of home care services
- More than 2,800 people will be kicked out of the nursing home where they live
- 10,000 in-home caregivers will lose their jobs, resulting in a loss of $150 million in income per year to local economies
- Wages and benefits for in-home caregivers that keep their jobs will be cut by $50 million, a loss of about $1,300 a year for a full-time caregiver
- Between changes in eligibility and rates cuts, home care funding will be cut by $200 million a year
- Between changes in eligibility and rates cuts, nursing home funding will be cut by $240 million a year
- Disproportionally, these cuts will impact Black, Indigenous, and communities of color as clients and long-term care workers