Last week, PHI posted the third installment of their 60 Caregiver Issues Campaign. This issue brief highlighted how the Affordable Care Act brought coverage to many caregivers who previously had no healthcare insurance and discussed how proposed changes now before congress could impact the nation’s direct care workforce. The link to PHI’s report is at the bottom of this post.
It boils down to this: among its many provisions, the ACA included an expansion of Medicaid that benefited the working poor and thus provided healthcare coverage to caregivers who did not previously qualify because they “earned too much.”
Here are the numbers directly from the PHI brief:
- From 2010 to 2014, approximately 500,000 direct care workers nationwide gained health insurance following implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
- The uninsured rate decreased 26 percent during the same time frame, from 28 percent to 21 percent.
- These coverage gains are primarily attributable to a 30 percent increase in the number of workers insured through Medicaid programs.
The repeal of the ACA threatens this coverage and many caregivers may again find themselves without the means for adequate health care. In a field where workers are at high risk for injuries resulting in musculoskeletal disorders and face the risk of serious infection every day, this lack of healthcare coverage is devastating. It not only leads to higher turnover rates that negatively impact the care of our elderly and disabled, it also reinforces the tendency to view caregivers as short-term workers, an expendable resource that can be used up, disposed of, and replaced.
We cannot properly care for the most vulnerable of our citizenry if we overlook the health and well-being of those who care for them. The two cannot be separated. In a time when the demand for caregivers has reached a crisis, reducing direct workers’ access to adequate health care is an unwise – and unhealthy – step backward.
The PHI report can be found here.