Sacramento, CA – Home care workers who are members of SEIU Local 2015 joined seniors and people with disabilities of the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program today to sound the alarm on a threatening policy proposal. Currently, the state plans to implement electronic tracking of home care services despite serious concerns for consumer privacy and quality of care.
“Providing quality care takes time and attention to details,” said Connie Barker, a home care worker from Marin County. “I need to stay focused on my clients’ needs, providing the care they need the way they direct. Their health, comfort and ability to live independently depend on that. That’s why a mandate to be constantly checking in about every last detail of our day makes absolutely no sense and compromises quality care. It undermines the very point of the IHSS program: assisting clients who count on us to stay focused on their needs.”
Hundreds of caregivers and their clients arrived at the State Capitol today to share their stories and concerns with lawmakers as California faces a 2019 federal deadline to implement so-called Electronic Visit Verification (EVV). The requirement, buried in the 2016 Federal “21st Century Cures Act” by lobbyists for companies aiming to sell EVV equipment and software to states, doesn’t respond to any legitimate concern over patient care. Instead, it resurrects disproven and offensive assumptions about fraud in programs that serve poor people in an attempt to force states like California into costly new services. The most recent report from the Department of Social Services shows fraud in IHSS is extremely rare and effectively prosecuted by state officials.
Furthermore, evidence from other states demonstrates that requiring caregivers to spend more time tracking each discrete task, from help with bathing, to changing diapers, to dispensing medication, and preparing meals results in fewer hours of care. If California proceeds with this costly mandate, it will result in significant state expenses, while consumers receive less care.
The EVV mandate is a threat to the quality care our seniors and people with disabilities expect and deserve,” said SEIU Local 2015 Executive Vice President April Verrett. “It is unfair and inhumane that lawmakers should think it is more important for caregivers to “check in” for every single task they do, instead of focusing their time and attention on bathing, feeding, and administering medications to their consumers. People’s lives are in their hands and that is not something to be taken lightly.”
These unproven technologies and tracking methods pose serious risks to consumer care and privacy. Hacking of consumer’s health information is a serious threat; even the U.S. Military has been embarrassed by the insecurity of GPS trackers soldiers wear during exercise. Clearly, more thought needs to go into adoption of technology such as GPS devices or phone apps that put personal information at risk.
Pharmaceutical and technology companies paid more than $2 million to influence the federal legislation containing the EVV mandate, shifting millions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of these very corporations who can afford to buy access in Congress. One of the biggest spenders aiming to sell its EVV equipment to the states is pharma giant McKesson Corp. Already embroiled in a scandal for its role in influencing regulators and fueling the nation’s opioid crisis, McKesson’s involvement raises concerns over the integrity of companies that could possess personal health information on 700,000 seniors and people with disabilities in California.
Home care workers will continue to lobby legislators in the coming months asking them to oppose the EVV mandate.
The rally was streamed live on Facebook and can be viewed here: SEIU 2015