Homecare

Who we are…
SEIU Local 503 represents more than 20,000 homecare workers in the state of Oregon. Close to 12,500 workers care for seniors and people with physical disabilities, and 7,500 care for people with developmental disabilities, mental health needs and medically fragile children.


Homecare and Personal Support Workers win basic federal workers’ protections

State implementation still a question

Some historic changes mean that homecare workers and personal support workers will finally share legal protections that have been enjoyed by most other American workers for over 75 years.

Until recently, homecare and personal support workers were not covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that protects worker hours and pay. That will change on January 1, 2015, when FLSA is extended to personal support and homecare workers. The new rules significantly narrow the “companionship exemption” that has excluded homecare and personal support workers from basic federal wage and hour protections.

Our union, along with other worker and consumer advocates, is working with the State of Oregon to determine how to bring state wage and hour laws up to speed with the national standard.

Oregon’s homecare program is one of the best in the nation, and we want to make sure it stays that way. That’s why our union’s primary concerns include:

  • Ensuring funding for in-home care programs;
  • Protecting consumer choice in selecting services and providers;
  • Growing our workforce to meet the increasing need for in-home care programs; and
  • No worker gets a pay decrease.

The State of Oregon’s main concern is how many hours per week can an individual safely work and provide services. Department of Human Services staff use Oregon’s firefighters and police officers as an example: All Oregon firefighters must be given 48 consecutive hours off-duty during each seven-day period, and Oregon State Police officers must have 10 hours off-duty between work shifts.

With this in mind, the State of Oregon is considering:

  • Possible changes to the live-in program; and
  • A possible limit of 40 work hours per week hours with no overtime accrual permitted.

Funding:

The State estimates that implementing FLSA in Oregon will add $200 million dollars to the biennial budget. Oregon legislators agree that one-half of that amount must be used to pay providers for the additional unpaid hours they have been working to date. This brings our formerly invisible work out of the shadows.

The remaining fiscal resources must be used to fund live-in care–the single biggest cost driver–and additional needed service hours.

Next steps:

Extending FLSA rights to homecare and personal support workers is a huge victory, but it is a work in progress on the state level. Our union leaders continue to meet with key lawmakers to ensure that implementation runs as smoothly as possible, and that the homecare system our union has helped build over the years continues to be a model for the rest of the country.

As a personal support or homecare worker, you can help by taking this very brief survey to share your thoughts and experience with us.

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Victory on health insurance rates: many Oregonians will see premium reductions

SEIU members spoke, and the Insurance Division listened.

Thousands of Oregonians, including many SEIU care providers, sent messages to the Oregon Insurance Division to comment on proposed rate increases for 2015.  As a result, many (though not all) Oregonians will see reductions in their premiums next year.

Today, the Oregon Insurance Division—the state’s insurance regulator—announced its decisions on health insurers’ rate proposals for 2015. These decisions come after OSPIRG Foundation’s in-depth analysis raised numerous questions about some of the larger proposed rate increases, including proposals from ModaPacificSourceUnited and Health Net. Over 4,000 Oregonians also weighed in with public comment.

Oregon’s health insurers must get permission from state officials before they can raise premiums on individuals and small businesses. For several years, OSPIRG Foundation has put a magnifying glass to premium hike proposals, and thousands of OSPIRG members have emailed and called the state’s Insurance Division. All this additional scrutiny has helped cut over $155 million in waste from health insurance premiums since 2010.

OSPIRG is just beginning their analysis of today’s decisions, but here are some of their findings so far:

  • The Insurance Division shared our concern that few of Oregon’s insurers had a workable plan to pass along the savings from reductions in uncompensated care for the uninsured due to the expansion of access to health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the past year, 400,000 Oregonians have signed up for coverage under the ACA, and we have already started to see rates of uncompensated care go down. Since commercial insurers wind up footing the bill for uncompensated care, this reduction should be reflected in reduced premium rates, but few Oregon insurers incorporated these savings into their rates. The Oregon Insurance Division took corrective action and cut many insurers’ proposed rates by 2% to ensure that they accurately reflected the changes underway in health care in Oregon.
  • Many of the largest proposed rate increases were scaled back. PacificSource, which initially proposed a 15.9% increase—and walked that back to 10.8% shortly after—will only be raising rates by 3.9%. Moda’s proposed 12.5% increase will be cut back to 10.6%, largely on the basis of reductions in uncompensated care.
  • For many Oregonians, rates will be going down. The Insurance Division estimates that the average premium for a 40-year-old Portlander on the Oregon Standard Silver plan will go down by about $12 per month, and many Oregonians will see rates decline by 10% or more. For Oregonians who have seen rate increase every year for decades, this is a welcome development.

Click here to see a chart with a rundown of all of the major rate decisions announced today.

It’s important to note that many Oregonians will still see large rate hikes.

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Important information from your Homecare Workers Supplemental Trust

Dear Homecare or Personal Support Worker,
We received notice that Kaiser Permanente sent invoices to Oregon Exchange members who had never received invoices or only a portion of their invoices in 2014.
You may have received in the mail a premium bill from Kaiser asking for payment, potentially in error.
If you have received a premium bill and you are a Trust eligible homecare or personal support worker that was enrolled individually through Cover Oregon into the Kaiser Silver Plan with no family members on your plan, you can ignore this bill.
If you have any questions as to whether or not you are Trust eligible, please contact the Trust office at ohcwt@bsitpa.com or 1-844-507-7554 Option 3, Option 2.
Kaiser will also be reaching out to you to confirm this information in the near future.
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Important Message About DD System Changes and PSW Payments

Personal Support Workers:

Below is the email that DD Services recently sent out regarding the movement to a centralized payroll starting in July.  We wanted to share it with Personal Support Workers in case you didn’t receive it.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: BAXTER Patricia E <patricia.e.baxter@state.or.us>
Date: Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Subject: Important Message About DD System Changes and PSW Payments
To: BAXTER Patricia E <patricia.e.baxter@state.or.us>
Dear Personal Support Worker,

As you know, our state is making a number of changes throughout the programs supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  These changes are needed to be in compliance with federal regulations and our collective bargaining agreement, as well as to improve service delivery.  The Department of Human Services has been working collaboratively with SEIU, Brokerages, Community Developmental Disability Programs (CDDP), providers and other advocates in making sure these changes do not negatively impact the people we serve or our workers.

The most immediate and direct change, coming up on July 1, is how you will be paid.  Beginning in July, we are moving to a centralized state payment system, with TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services, Inc., with common payroll dates twice a month.  This is going to help streamline eligibility for medical, dental and vision benefits.  As we have previously communicated, there is a delay to other program changes, specifically around the Plan of Care functionality in eXPRS. We will be sharing more information around those timelines as it becomes available.

You may have recently been contacted by the CDDP and/or brokerage that you work with to complete information required for the transition to TNT Fiscal Intermediary Services for the purpose of processing payroll on July 1. Please complete and return any paperwork you have been provided so that we can ensure you are paid timely. Once you have completed and submitted your paperwork you have nothing else to worry about – TNT will contact you, through your CDDP or brokerage, should additional information be needed. TNT has indicated that if paperwork is delayed, they will still do everything in their power to ensure timely payments, even to the point of running an extra payroll cycle if needed. It is important to us that you are paid accurately and timely. You will need to sign a new direct deposit form if you chose direct deposit.  This form was included in the information you received from your CDDP or brokerage. If you need another copy of the form, please contact the CDDP or brokerage, or you can contact TNT directly at (503) 463-0134.

In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, beginning with services provided after July 1, 2014, claims for payment should be submitted to the Brokerage or CDDP no later than three (3) business days (excluding Oregon and Federal holidays) before the eighth (8th) and/or the twenty-third (23rd) of each month.  You will be paid three (3) business days (excluding Oregon and Federal holidays) after the eighth (8th) and/or the twenty-third (23rd) of each month.  Click here to see the full details http://www.seiu503.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/10/files/2014/03/SEIU-OHCC-2013-2015-Collective-Bargaining-Agreement-FINAL-SIGNED-COVER-LETTER.pdf. Payment for June or earlier services will be paid in accordance with current practice.

If you have questions regarding this transition, please contact your CDDP, Brokerage, or TNT. Be watching for additional information over the next couple of weeks, including a calendar outlining payment dates, options for payment, and other information for your reference.

Trisha Baxter, Interim DD Program Director
Chief Operating Officer
Aging and Disability Programs
Department of Human Services
500 Summer Street NE
Salem, OR 97301

503-945-5858 (desk)
503-580-7853 (cell)

 

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SEIU 503 response to Harris v. Quinn

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Member Benefits

Member Benefits Open Enrollment
October 1, 2014 through October 31, 2014

Open Enrollment is the time of year you may purchase life and legal insurance for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. Completed enrollment forms must be postmarked no later than October 31, 2014. Benefit Elections can only be changed or canceled during an Open Enrollment period. or with a qualified status event.

Read more…

 

Important Notice for Homecare Workers

Administration of the Oregon Homecare Workers Supplemental and Benefits Trust to change on May 1, 2014.

Starting May 1, 2014, Benefit Solutions, Inc. (BSI) will be responsible for handling and processing all premium payments and member reimbursement payments for the Oregon Homecare Workers Trusts.

Should you need to contract BSI directly:

Phone: 844-507-7554
Email: OHCWT@bsitpa.com
Fax: 866-459-4623
Mail: P.O. Box 6, Mukilteo, Washington 98275

 

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2014 Legislative Victories: Advocating for Quality Services

Paul Groh“These wonderful new laws improve our clients’ well-being and our ability to provide quality services for them. I am really proud of our accomplishments!”

—Paul Groh, Personal Support Worker, Yamhill County

Our union is deeply committed to advocating for policies that help Oregonians live with dignity and maximize their self-determination. Over the last three years we have achieved major victories that greatly improve services for aging Oregonians and people with disabilities.

SB 1542: Helping 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.

SB 559: Providing choice in comprehensive care placement

SB 5529: Implementing a uniform needs assessment and eliminating monetary caps on brokerage consumers’ individual service dollars

HB 3618: Ensuring that improvements—such as pay increases—secured through our contract do not reduce the amount and scope of services for consumers

Alice Redding“I am proud of our work on the Homecare Choice bill—it will improve the quality of the providers available to non-Medicaid consumers. It is important for all consumers to have the same access to providers with training and a background check, rather than finding someone they know nothing about.”

—Alice Redding, Homecare Worker, Rainer

SB 1542: Helping 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.

(Bill Enacted in 2014)

Since 2000, Oregonians whose care is paid for by Medicaid have had the option to hire a homecare provider through the Oregon Home Care Commission Registry. Before SB 1542 was passed in 2014, individuals who were not on Medicaid only had two options for hiring caregivers: hiring through an agency, or advertising and hiring on their own.

SB 1542 enables Oregonians at all income levels to search the registry and hire a trained, background-checked caregiver who best meets their needs.

SB 1542 addresses several critical shortfalls in the current system:

  • Autonomy: The relationship with a homecare worker is very personal. This bill enables Oregonians to personally hire and supervise a homecare worker who fits their needs and schedule, rather than giving up control to an agency who makes those decisions for them.
  • Affordability: Because the state is only recouping administrative costs, the costs to consumers will be lower, enabling more Oregonians to afford homecare.
  • Access: 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 homecare throughout the state.

Rose Rogers“It is reassuring to know that people with developmental disabilities will now have advocates that truly care for their wants and needs. As a parent provider I feel this is a step in the right direction in starting to fix the system.”

—Rose Rogers, Parent Provider, Coos Bay

SB 559: Providing choice in comprehensive care placement

(Bill Enacted in 2013)

Before SB 559 was passed, Oregonians with developmental disabilities who were placed in comprehensive care had little choice about where they lived or received services. These decisions were largely driven by their County Developmental Disabilities Program (CDDP) case manager.

In addition, when decisions were made about employment opportunities in group homes, people who received services within the group home were often given preference for job placement over eligible, qualified people who lived outside the group home.

SB 559 gives Oregonians with developmental disabilities a voice in choosing where they live and provides equal opportunity in job placements.

  • SB 559 requires CDDP case managers to provide people with disabilities with the opportunity to select from at least three placement options. At least two of the options must be different types of settings (e.g. the choice must not be between three group homes, but it could be between two adult foster homes and one group home). This ensures that Oregonians with developmental disabilities have a voice in determining where they live and receive services.
  • SB 559 also ensures that Oregonians with developmental disabilities have equal opportunity for job placements. Job placement for those seeking employment will be determined individually and not based on where the applicant lives.

Oregon’s developmental disabilities program provides services for over 21,000 people with developmental disabilities. Choosing where and how we live and participating in our communities are fundamental rights that all Oregon citizens should enjoy.

SB 5529: Implementing a uniform needs assessment and eliminating monetary caps on brokerage consumers’ individual service dollars

(Bill Enacted in 2013)

Two budget notes included in the 2013 Department of Human Services (DHS) budget directed the agency to make the following policy changes:

  • By January 2015, DHS will implement a uniform needs assessment tool for individuals receiving developmental disabilities services. Any assessment tool used by the department must be evidence-based and consider broad stakeholder input, and implementation must be equitable.
  • As DHS implements the federally-approved Medicaid State Plan 1915(K) Option in Developmental Disability Services, the Department will eliminate program-wide monetary caps on brokerage consumers’ individual service dollars. This means no more caps and no more unmet needs. Consumers will no longer have to stretch limited funds between different support needs, such as support hours, technology, and employment services. Every consumer will have a functional needs assessment, and an individual budget with a line item for each service category. Each need will be fully funded at the level assessed in the needs assessment, with no cap.

HB 3618: Ensures that improvements—such as pay increases—secured through our contract do not reduce the amount and scope of services for consumers.

(Bill Enacted in 2010)

Historically, individuals received an annual consumer budget that had to cover the total cost of their in-home support services. This meant that any provider wage increase could ultimately result in fewer hours of service for the consumer. As providers began to explore the idea of forming a Union, one priority was clear: any improvements for the provider secured through our contract could not come at the expense of consumer services.

HB 3618 ensures that contract improvements such as wages and healthcare coverage are funded separately from the consumer’s budget.

HB 3618 means that providers can collectively negotiate fair wages and benefits knowing that consumer services will be protected from cuts. Raising standards for caregivers improves services for consumers by helping recruit and retain quality providers.


Our work is not done! Join us in advocating for quality services.

We have been able to make these improvements because of care providers putting in a lot of time and energy through our union. But our work is not done. We need to continue to advocate for more improvements to long term care services in Oregon.

Our union is only as strong as we make it. So if we want to make more improvements in the future we have to build our strength starting today. The more providers that become members and get involved, the more it shows state decision makers in Salem we are building power.

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Mayors Piercy and Lundberg Declare “Caregiver Recognition Day”

Eugene-area care providers enjoyed some much-deserved accolades from city officials on April 8, as Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg declared April 8, 2014, “Caregiver Recognition Day.”

The mayors joined hospital workers from McKenzie Willamette Medical Center, nursing home workers, local homecare workers and developmental disability workers for a heartfelt roundtable discussion, followed by an official joint proclamation declaring April 8th “Caregiver Recognition Day”.

“I’m so touched at how proud [these caregivers] are of the work they do, how much they care about the people they provide services for and how much they know those services are very valuable for the quality of life for people in our community.”, said Kitty Piercy, Mayor of Eugene.

“I can’t tell you how much we truly appreciate the work that caregivers do. Thank you so much for what you do said Springfield’s Mayor Christine Lundberg.

Standing alongside the Mayors, local caregivers reflected on the importance of having the support of local leaders and the community.

“It means so much to receive this appreciation from our elected leaders and community. Everyone deserves to have a good life and to be taken care of, regardless of their age or disability.” said Jhansie Turner, a local developmental disability worker with independent living services company Alvord Taylor.

Caregivers provide essential services to the most vulnerable members of our community. Their work in our community ranges from providing critical care in our hospitals to providing in-home care to seniors, children and people with disabilities. Despite the critical services they provide, caregivers continue to face significant challenges that include having a meaningful voice on the job, getting access to affordable care and making a living wage.

“This is a special day that is just as much about our community and our patients as it is us. We are here today because we are proud of the work we do and deeply care about our community, said Ken Charpie a Lab Tech worker at Mckenzie Willamette Medical Center. “But at the same time caregivers are facing increasing challenges that are forcing us to do more with less.”

In response to growing care provider concerns, employees across Mckenzie Willamette Willamette Medical Center – from nurses to technical workers – are holding an informational picket on Thursday, April 17th from 1-4pm at Willamalane Park (Across from McKenzie Willamette Medical Center). Caregivers will be joined by elected leaders and community supporters in standing up for quality affordable care and good jobs at the hospital.

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Homecare Choice Bill passes House

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.

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We’re on the move! Sign up for the SEIU Local 503 Campaign to Build Voter Power

This summer, SEIU care providers will once again take the state by storm! From Bend to Lincoln City and Eugene to Medford, care providers are planning to reach out to fellow workers to sign them up for membership, build political power through our union’s political fund (CAPE), register voters in key legislative districts, and invite them to volunteer with our union. In 2012, 39 member leaders participated in the blitzes, and together we knocked on 2,011 doors, signed up 254 new members and 202 CAPE contributors, and registered 92 new voters through weekend visits to communities across the state.

Will you join us? Whether you can come out for the whole weekend or just devote a day or a few hours, it all makes a big difference. We’ll feed you, train you and pair you up with someone who has knocked on doors before. Lodging provided for folks traveling more than 75 miles. Blitzes scheduled throughout the state on weekends: Fridays and Saturdays, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Register here to participate: http://seiu503.seiu.org/page/s/2014blitz

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