Letter to the Editor: Time to recognize worth of direct care workforce

We’ve rightfully celebrated doctors and nurses through the COVID-19 pandemic, but have failed to recognize many of the unsung heroes of this public health emergency, including direct care workers.

Since March of 2020, more than 200,000 direct care workers across Pennsylvania have been on the frontlines, ensuring that individuals they serve remain safe and healthy at home. Despite their critical role in the healthcare continuum, these caregivers simply do not receive the support they deserve.

Now, as private employers continue to increase wages, and the impacts of the pandemic linger, these dedicated healthcare professionals are leaving the industry for less demanding, higher-paying jobs.

Support and funding for this workforce is long overdue, and Pennsylvania lawmakers must act in this year’s budget to stop this workforce crisis.

Today, the average hourly wage for Pennsylvania direct care workers is only $13.40 an hour. Homecare agencies recognize the worth and value of their caregivers, and want to fairly compensate them for their essential, life-sustaining role in healthcare. Unfortunately, caregiver wages are largely dictated by Medicaid reimbursement rates. Policymakers have chronically underfunded the Medicaid program and undervalued the services homecare agencies and their caregivers provide.

We can no longer afford to undervalue home care and its workforce. Please join me in taking action today. Visit www.pahomecare.org to send a message to your legislators letting them know it’s time to recognize in-home caregivers’ worth.  

Bryant Greene, Always Best Care Senior Services