Caretakers Living In Poverty, Study Finds

By City News Service

About 60 percent of Medi-Cal caregivers earn income below or near the federal poverty level, a UCLA researcher told the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

“We found by any economic measures, these caregivers are economically insecure,” Geoffrey Hoffman, a researcher at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of “Hidden in Plain Sight,” told the board.

“Compared to other Californians, they had much higher rates of poverty.”

The federal poverty level for a single person is $931 per month.

The study – which was funded at least in part by Service Employees International Union, a union that represents long-term care workers – highlights the vulnerability of in-home supportive services workers paid under a jointly-funded state and local program that reimburses family members, friends and other caregivers.

In addition to earning on average about half of what non-caregivers earn, the workers have high job turnover and are twice as likely to lack health insurance as non-caregivers, according to the report.

The union representing long-term care workers has petitioned the board to raise wages to $9.65 per hour from $9. Beacon Economics, asked by the union to study the impact of a wage increase, estimated that it would boost the local economy by $90 million and create more than 700 jobs.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal calls for cutting $125.3 million from the state program by eliminating some services for people in shared living arrangements and minors living with an able parent.

Saying such cuts would likely spur legal challenges, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has instead proposed cutting the hours or rates paid to caregivers.

The board of supervisors did not take any action on the matter Tuesday.

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May 31, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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