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Lawmakers, community leaders support wage increase for home care workers

Saint Louis, MO. — State lawmakers and community leaders around the state participated in the ‘Walk a Day in My Shoes’ event to spark public support for a wage increase for home care workers.

Home care workers provide a wide range of in-home services, typically for senior citizens or those with disabilities. The average wage for a Missouri home care worker is about $8.60 per hour. Workers have been negotiating with their respective agencies and the state about increasing that number to a “living wage” of $11 per hour.

Elizabeth Travis, a Missouri home care worker who is a member of the bargaining team, says the higher wage for workers won’t come on the backs of tax payers. Travis and the workers simply want the state to mandate that agencies receiving Medicaid dollars to fund home care workers spend more of those dollars on salary.

“This won’t cost the taxpayer a single penny,” Travis told reporters on a conference call. “I hope Governor Jay Nixon hears my voice. I hope he hears me asking him to preserve a vital program by supporting the 11 dollar per hour wage.”

Along with a push to the press, several lawmakers joined home care workers around the state to help them in their duties for the day to highlight the work they do.

State Senators Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis and Paul LeVota of Kansas City, both Democrats, performed home care duties with a consumer in their neighborhoods.

“My home care attendant made a great deal of difference in my life,” Nasheed said, referring to the home care worker who currently cares for her 91-year-old grandmother. “But she isn’t making enough to fulfill her own life. They take care of our most vulnerable, the seniors and people with disabilities, and I’m calling on Governor Nixon to make things right.”

Sen. Nasheed
Sen. Nasheed

State Rep. Charlie Norr and state House candidates Zech Hochersmith and Hugh Shields also participated in the day’s events in their respective communities, performing the duties of a home care worker.

The Medicaid-funded home care service allows about 30,000 Missourians to continue living in their homes while receiving medical care. Proponents of a wage increase for the workers note that Medicaid-funded nursing homes or live-in care facilities tend to be much more expensive than home worker care.

Rep. Kevin McManus, who also supports the wage increase, told reporters that every Missourian knew someone who might need this kind of care.

“We all know someone who needs in home care,” McManus said. “You know how important it is that that person is able to remain in their homes and stay connected to communities and to their family. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give them a wage that provides them with the same level of dignity they provide consumers.”