Current Actions

3-4 minute read

Give comments on Attendant Wages

The Texas House Committee on Human Services is holding a public hearing Thursday, May 5, on several interim charges regarding public health programs.

The Committee is taking public comment, and this is a great opportunity to tell your story and advocate for a raise in the base wage of community attendants. If you're unsure what to say, see our sample language below the Take Action button.

Submit your written comments by the end of the day Wednesday, May 4 to ensure they are received by the start of Thursday's hearing. In-person testimony is limited to invited persons.

To make comments, click the Take Action button below. You will be directed to the House Public Comment form. First, check the Acknowledgement and affirmation box and enter your contact information. Then, select the third topic area, "Implementation of SB 1, Rider 30 (HHSC)," and enter your comments. Don't forget to click "submit."

TAKE ACTION

Suggested language:

Years of underfunding for community attendants and direct care workers has resulted in a huge gap between market wages and Medicaid wages for these essential workers. COVID has exacerbated this crisis. Community attendants are an evaporating pool of workers.

We’re losing this competition to taco shacks, fast food, and unskilled warehouse work; and it’s not even close. The base wage for most Medicaid community care is $8.11 per hour with no benefits whereas fast food restaurants pay $17 per hour to start and Amazon unskilled warehouse workers begin at $18 plus benefits with a review in 90 days.

Sky-high turnover rates indicate community care in Texas Medicaid is facing a collapse of its critical, essential workforce. This is alarming and becomes more so with increasing workforce demands in the near future. The Texas Workforce Commission ranks the state’s projected highest-growth occupations—Texas will need almost 95,000 new community attendants by 2028.   

The inability to recruit and retain community attendants is absolutely the result of the current low wages. Without attendant care, people with disabilities and older adults decline in health, leading to more costs for acute care, ER visits and hospitalizations. Loss of independence and unnecessary institutionalization results.

I have family and friends facing this outcome due to inability to recruit and retain community attendants. This will require a significant appropriation to make up for years of inattention to attendant wage rates. The base wage for community attendants should be at least $15 per hour with a mechanism developed to maintain market wage rates.

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Tips for calling or emailing a legislator

  1. Be sure to say in your communication if you are a constituent of a particular committee member (look up your reps).
  2. Real life stories are great! If you have a personal story related to an issue, briefly tell it. Examples: “My daughter has been on the waiting list for ____ years.”  “My family member has a hard time getting an attendant to work on Medicaid wages.”
  3. If applicable, tell your legislator what IS working, not just what you want to change. Tell them what you appreciate and want to keep about a program or law.
  4. Network with other advocates to stay informed and motivated.
  5. If you have them, use attention-getting statistics.

What happens when you email or call a legislator?

When you write an email, you may not get an answer. If you call and talk to a legislative office, the staffer may take your name and why you call. As a result, you may feel your voice was not heard. This is not the case. Staff tracks communications like the number of emails, phone calls, and letters on an issue. This will be shared with the legislator and can often influence her or him. Every legislative session, there are bills passed that were unexpected—and in many cases that was the result of emails and phone calls. In 2021, as in-person office visits are expected to be dramatically decreased, calls and emails will be critical communication channels to your elected representatives!

@TXDisabilities