Image of a dark purple background with gold, bold and caps tagline: In our empowerment era. Images of a person with a white cane, a woman with a prosthetic hand, a fair pay for home care sign, and newspapers collage the page. In a recent survey, 1 out of 4 people who qualify for home care cannot find the care they need, and 3 out of 4 struggle to retain the care they have. As New York’s population ages, home care workers are continuing to flee the sector; fair wages is the solution to the home care shortage.

The Fair Pay Act is a federal law that requires employers to pay home health care workers the same minimum wage and overtime as most other workers. This act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015 to address the issue of home health care workers being underpaid and overworked. Before the Fair Pay Act, many home health care workers were exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Today, in New York State, we still advocate for Fair Pay for Home Care, an act to amend the Public Health Law (Senate Bill S3189). The purpose of the bill is “to strengthen the ability of New Yorkers to live and age in the community by investing in a high quality home care system through the establishment of a minimum wage specific to the home care sector indexed to 150% of the state minimum wage and ensure provider reimbursement from the state and managed care organizations operating under Medicaid are sufficient to fund a high quality system.”

Home health care aides provide essential services to individuals with disabilities and the elderly who need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and cooking. They may also sometimes provide skilled nursing if needed.

Independent Home Care Consumer/Client Andy states, “If I don’t have anybody here to help, I’m sleeping in my [wheel]chair.” These caregivers also provide medication reminders, transportation to appointments, and emotional support. Despite the vital role they play in the lives of their clients, also referred to as “consumers” in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), many home health care workers earn poverty-level wages and work long hours without overtime pay.

Independent Home Care provides Consumer-Directed Home Care, a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. This is unique to traditional at-home attendant care for persons with disabilities and seniors, giving them the opportunity to hire and manage their own personal aides. We are a contracted provider for Medicaid Home Care services that enables you or your designated representative(s) to fully manage and control your home health care. In essence, you get your care, your way.

The state of New York is currently experiencing the worst, most staggering home care shortage in the nation due to wages. This is preventing the elderly and individuals with disabilities from being able to live in their communities. Fair Pay for Home Care would be an important step towards ensuring that home health care workers receive fair compensation for their work. It will help to ensure that these workers are not exploited and that they can provide quality care to their clients without sacrificing their own financial stability. Join us on January 31 for a virtual roundtable discussion about the Value of Home Care.

Each year Independent Living and Independent Home Care travel to the State Capitol in Albany, NY, to participate in Legislative Advocacy Day. Employees and advocates speak to lawmakers to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs. This is a FREE event on February 12 and is open to anyone, whether you’re a person with a disability, passionate about human rights, a disability rights advocate or someone who wants to join in to have their voice and perspective heard. We’ll provide transportation, breakfast and lunch at no cost. To register call Jay Lantigua at (845) 565-1162 x 305 or email Accommodations for wheelchairs available upon request.

Stay tuned for February’s blog post where we’ll recap the 2024 visit. In the meantime, have your voice be heard by legislators right from your computer or phone by going to our Fair Pay for Home Care Action Alert.

Read more about the workforce shortage and the value of home care at the New York Times: Desperate Families Search for Affordable Home Care