Town hall meeting focuses on medicare for all, care worker shortage
Residents concerned with the future of healthcare and their ability to care for their families gathered Wednesday evening in the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center in Highland Park for a town hall discussion hosted by Caring Across Generations, Michigan United and Mothering Justice. Home care workers and family caregivers were joined by with US Rep. Rashida Tlaib to answer questions and talk through issues of long-term care, affordable childcare, paid family medical leave and the direct care worker shortage crisis in Michigan.
“There are families out here suffering who cannot go to the doctor because they don’t have healthcare coverage,” said Henrietta Ivey of Michigan United. “I’m here to talk about the big insurance companies too because it’s a travesty when we can not have the insurance to cover our basic needs.”
“We cannot sit by idly while people suffer due to a lack of health insurance and adequate coverage,” said Rep. Tlaib. “70 million people in the United States cannot afford the costs of their health care and many more suffer because they are forced to lose their jobs to care for a loved one. We must fight to move to a country where people can get the health care they need, the pay they deserve, and the ability for everyone to live a life full of dignity.”
People are living longer than ever and often the elderly and people with disabilities need long-term care. Those in the sandwich generation must manage to take care of their children and parents with little or no public support for care and caregiving. Meanwhile, nursing homes and institutions can be expensive and isolating. We know that aging and living in one's home and in one's own community (home and community based services) is the preferred way to be cared for among people who need care. In fact, 90% of the population would prefer to age at home or in a community setting instead of in a facility.
Vernette Mahome found herself taking care of her mother starting in 1999. The state offered her assistance to stay home with her but it was only $5.15/hr and only for $20 hours each month. At the time, Mahome was also working, going to school and raising five children. “It wasn’t easy balancing the care of (my mother) and ourselves,” said Mahome. “I believe that working together is the key to a successful community.”
As an attorney offering legal services, Bria Lewis often hears such stories of people having to make difficult decisions. Her own pregnancy recently pushed her to take advantage of available resources and found it barely sufficient. “How long is ‘making do’ enough when we can do better?” asked Lewis. “Other countries, with far fewer resources than we have, manage to craft policy that serves the economy as well as citizens. Why can’t we do that?”
The Caring Majority, an advocacy coalition made up of the event’s host organizations, is working to bring our caregiving infrastructure into the 21st century, so everyone can age and live with dignity. In 2018, the Michigan Caring Majority passed the Long-Term Care Study (formerly HB 4674) in the state budget. The study that began in June includes a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan and an actuarial analysis of potential financing solutions. It seeks to provide a road map for long-term care policy in Michigan. The study also includes an examination of Michigan’s care workforce and what is needed to achieve a well-trained workforce with enough personnel to meet home and community based care needs.