Indiana home care workers leapt into action last month, testifying for Medicaid expansion at the Statehouse and meeting with Muncie lawmakers to earn their support for Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled [CHOICE] expansion.
Help at Home worker Julie Martin of Michigan City traveled to Indianapolis to let her representatives know how much Medicaid expansion means to Hoosiers. Read her testimony:
My name is Julie Martin and I’m from Michigan City, Indiana. I’ve worked for Help at Home (a home care agency) in Michigan City for one year and also work for another home care agency called Global Home Health for 5 years. I have been a health care worker for total 10 years. I’m a proud member of the largest health care union in this country – Service Employees International Union (SEIU). I’m proud to be a part of SEIU Health Care Indiana/ Illinois/ Missouri/ Kansas Local with the power of over 96,000 health care workers. I’m here on behalf of all home care workers across the state that could not be here today to testify for Medicaid expansion for Hoosiers.
As a home care worker, I take care of many disabled kids and adults to make sure that they get the care they need in a familiar environment away from an institutionalized care. I make ($12.25) at Global Home Health agency and I make ($10.50) at Help at Home agency as a direct support provider. A meter reader in this state makes more than me. Although home care is a low paying and undervalued job, I love my job as a health care worker and giving care to those in need. The problem is that although I take care of others’ health, I can’t even take care of my own healthcare needs. I can’t afford to have health insurance and I have to choose between buying the food for my kids and paying medical bills. I work two jobs and it is still not enough. Does it make sense to you that home care workers can’t even afford health insurance? Currently, HIP (Healthy Indiana Plan) covers about 40,000 Hoosiers and there are 800,000 uninsured Hoosiers like me still out there without insurance. Expanding Medicaid would let over 400,000 Hoosiers access insurance that covers the services we need without forcing us to decide between paying for health care and paying other bills. HIP, on the other hand, does not cover crucial services like dental and vision care and includes co-payments that will discourage low income people just like me who live paycheck to paycheck from getting necessary care.
HIP was created with a good intention – to fill the gap in insurance coverage with the resources we have. We appreciate that. But it is not enough and leaves hundreds thousands of Hoosiers without access to any health insurance, and the program has serious limitations even for those who can enroll. Now we have a great opportunity to expand Medicaid. I respectfully urge the Governor to have a heart for uninsured Hoosiers like me and expand Medicaid so that and we can take care of those in need. It’s time to consider what’s best for Indiana and expand Medicaid to the 400,000 Hoosiers who we’ve left behind for too long.
Later in March, workers and consumers from Help At Home Muncie met with State Representatives Tom Saunders and Sue Errington to fight for full funding for the CHOICE program that helps to provide care for Indiana residents who are not eligible for Medicaid. Though funding shortages continue to threaten this important program in our area, after meeting with our members and consumers, Errington and Saunders were successful in getting the funding partially restored.
“Our meeting was warm and informal, and resulted in positive support from Representatives Saunders and Errington,” said Muncie Help at Home member Lesa Langdon. “It always feels good to bring our concerns directly to our legislators and have them addressed.”
We’re still fighting for full CHOICE funding all over Indiana, but this success is a great reminder of how important it is for SEIU members to share our personal stories with lawmakers in order to win for our consumers and our communities.