May 16, 2011

Nursing Homes and Health Coverage

American nursing homes and home care agencies were the focus on the front page today, of an article I saw in the New York Times. It was disappointing to learn the fact that most American Nursing Homes and Home Care Agencies were not providing health insurance to their workers. If that wasn't bad enough, it was revealed that many of these workers are paid so low that Health Insurance plans offered for individuals, was too expensive for them to obtain on their meager pay. According to this article today, of the workers providing hands-on care to nursing home residents, 1 of 4 employees has no health coverage whatsoever. For those providing care to people with needs, at their homes, only 1 out of every 3 has coverage. I see this as a paradox of sorts when I thought about it. In America, there are estimated to be 90-100 million people belonging to the baby boomer generation. This generation represents the population increase that is due to a rising birth rate several years directly following the end of World War 2. Soldiers around the world returned home after the end of the war, and began settling down and raising families. This generation is now beginning to retire. As a matter fact, they will be retiring in mass over the coming years, as they cross 65 years of age. Many of these Americans need special care. It is common that the older you get, the slower and eventually, weaker you become. Having a set of Americans dedicated to caring for our aging population, is not only a job, its a social responsibility. Just like an infant can't care and protect for itself, there will be many elderly people in the same situation. We should not terrify them that a society with morals and family values as is so often proclaimed, will forget about them and the people who step forward willing to serve their unique and individual needs, will be forced to find higher paying jobs just to keep up with the rising costs of food, gas, and basic materials. As costs rise, so should salaries and benefits!

Pay Healthcare Workers DECENT!

rising costs and stagnant wages not fair to the American Worker
I use to hear people say, "America is the place where all your dreams can come true." Although I still believe this to be true, I think American can do a better job of not making that dream feel so out of reach for millions of Americans. I salute full heartedly those who work in healthcare and in particular, to help and provide for some of the most fragile citizens who need it most, the elderly. Workers should be paid enough to not only buy their own health insurance, but to also expect that this industry will be protected, meaning salaries will rise with inflation. When you get paid $500 every week, but over time that $500 buys you less and less things because of rising prices, than you aren't really getting paid that amount anymore. That $500 is not as valuable because it does not buy you as much, therefore in a sense, you are actually getting paid less. America needs to wake up and start taking care of not only it's elderly, but also its workers. We have way to large of a segment of the population who are becoming seniors all at once, to play around with this issue. Bold action needs to be taken and this issue must be addressed with intelligence, compassion, and the desire to do better and live in a fairer, kinder world. America is falling behind on this issue while the problem continues to advance forward. There will be a head on collision, I'm just hoping the problem is met with prudence, rather than incompetence. At this point in time, I have my fingers crossed.

tax cuts for the wealthy sign
President Obama's healthcare legislation is suppose to address this by making coverage options that are more affordable then the current ones that exist. This might address providing coverage, but the low pay of American workers proving services to the elderly, must be cracked opened and examined. I mean, is it me or is it ludicrous to have given the wealthy large tax breaks recently that's going to take $700 billion dollars to finance (borrow so essentially it becomes part of the deficit), yet when it comes to something like the well-being of our seniors and the people who care for them in nursing facilities or that provide home-care, America would rather cut from this sector then enrich it and make it better. I watch as that sector continues to inch and claw its way forward. just for survival. Instead of enriching the bank accounts of a selected few with these borderline corrupt political policies which at times sound like outright lies (such as suggesting the economy will grow if we borrow and give it to the rich!). We should instead as a nation, focus on enriching the lives of our most vulnerable and most important segment of the population, the seniors who have carried the world on their backs for the next generation, me, us. They deserve better and the brave and heartful people who serve them, definitely deserve better. I hope America gets this one right, because we are going to be facing a catastrophic failure of how we care for nearly 1/3 of America's population who have started retiring in droves. America will have to face this reality and if it is not well prepared to meet this challenge head on, I think seniors lives are at risk and America's reputation as a compassionate and giving society able to care for its members.

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