They have struggled during the pandemic. They fought to get a new contract with the state and months after getting it they still haven’t received their bonuses, leading to some being kicked out and others forgoing needed medical treatment. .
“We exist, but we’re barely surviving,” Kara O’Dwyer, a home helper from West Haven, said on Wednesday.
She said her mother, another carer, had recently cut her arm and got infected. She was bedridden for three days instead of seeking medical treatment because she had no health insurance.
His mother, Carolyn Artes, also from West Haven, eventually made it to the emergency room.
“I was lucky it didn’t end up in my bloodstream,” Artes said. “I went just in time.”
But there is no money to pay for the treatment she received and every day she was unable to work she was not paid.
It’s the reality of four home helpers who are on the verge of becoming homeless or having a medical crisis.
The union that represents them, SEIU 1199, accuses Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration of failing to act, saying it denied 10,000 workers who care for Connecticut’s most frail residents an insurance allowance. sick leave, paid vacation and a promised bonus for hours worked between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
A spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management said they had been clear with the union from the start about what they would need to do to implement the policy.
“Health insurance premium support, paid vacations and bonuses – require approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” Chris Collibee said.
“During union negotiations, the PCA Membership Council has repeatedly stated and clarified in the plain language of our contract that these benefits are effective upon legislative and CMS approval, which are beyond the control of the Council or state agencies. There was never a commitment on an implementation date,” he added.
He said they are still exploring opportunities that may be available to home care workers on the state health insurance exchange, including open enrollment, and any potential special enrollment period, in particularly one that may be launched in response to the anticipated public health conclusion. emergency.
Workers are expected to deliver a petition to Lamont’s budget office later today. There are more stories.
Hartford homemaker Kyanna Ricketts was evicted from her apartment and now lives on her mother’s couch.
“If the state of Connecticut had implemented paid sick leave and paid the bonus we earned, I wouldn’t have been kicked out,” Ricketts said.
Isaac Kolonziaa, a home health aide, said he had a rash on his head that he needed to have a biopsy, but still had to postpone the operation because he had no insurance.
“Disappointed,” Kolonziaa said.
He said he scheduled surgery for Oct. 5 because payment was due to arrive Oct. 1, but that date has come and gone.
To be eligible for the health insurance benefit, home-based workers must present a rejection letter from the covered Husky and CT program and confirm that they have no further access to insurance through another job, spouse or relative. With respect to the lump sum premium, a home care attendant, also known as a care aide, must currently remain active to be eligible for the premium payment.
“Lamont’s inaction will leave thousands of personal home care workers without access to health care and without their signing bonus until the state receives approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “, the union said in a statement.
The state also argues that it must serve the same customer it had during the April 2021 to March 2022 period set out in the contract.
The union argues this is ridiculous because many of these clients come and go from hospitals and nursing homes and when that happens the home care worker has to find a new client to keep getting paid. They said having the same customer, especially during a pandemic, is a ridiculous bar to meet.
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