On March 7, the Oregon House passed Senate Bill 1542 on a 44-14 bipartisan vote. The bill now moves to Gov. Kitzhaber for signing.
The bill—co-sponsored by Senator Rosenbaum, Senator Beyer, Senator Steiner Hayward and Representative Gallegos, and supported by SEIU—helps aging Oregonians and people with disabilities get quality, affordable in-home care by expanding access to the Oregon Home Care Commission Registry and Referral System.
Currently, only individuals whose care is provided by Medicaid may hire caregivers through the registry.
“Access to quality, affordable in-home care can make the difference between staying at home and having to move into a care facility or a family member’s home,” said Lee Meyers, a retired homecare worker who testified on the bill. “The ability to choose and hire caregivers through the Oregon Home Care Commission Registry and Referral System means increased independence and a better quality of life for aging Oregonians and people with disabilities.”
Individuals without Medicaid assistance currently have only two options to hire homecare workers: hiring a caregiver through an agency, or advertising and hiring on their own. By providing access to a trained, background-checked workforce, SB 1542 provides security to individuals looking for quality, affordable in-home care.
“Recently, my family’s life was changed when my son was in an accident, and as he was getting ready to leave the hospital we began to look for a care provider to help him with daily tasks – bathing, dressing, cooking, eating,” said Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO. “As a parent, I wanted to make sure that we hired someone who he’d be comfortable with, and who would help him maintain his dignity through these experiences. But most of all I worried about finding someone who wouldn’t take advantage of him or of our family. SB 1542 will provide peace-of-mind to Oregonians throughout the state by helping them find experienced, background-checked in-home caregivers.”
SB 1542 also puts the state in charge of handling the administrative aspects of the in-home caregiver’s employment, including payroll, legal documentation, withholding and filing taxes, workers compensation and unemployment. Because the state is only recouping administrative costs rather than trying to make a profit, the costs to consumers will be lower, enabling more Oregonians to afford in-home care.
In non-metro areas, it is currently difficult for individuals to find caregivers. The Oregon Home Care Commission Registry and Referral system includes qualified caregivers in all 36 counties, enhancing access to in-home care throughout the state.