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Pennsylvania Home Care Workers Working Without Pay

January 17, 2013

Scores of Pennsylvania home care workers who are paid through Medicaid waivers have gone weeks without receiving paychecks.

Neil Bhaerman, a spokesperson for the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, a labor union, told Bloomberg Businessweek that hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of workers who care for elders and people with disabilities are having problems receiving payment.

At issue is the state’s recent decision to stop allowing local nonprofit agencies from distributing paychecks.

Instead, in a cost-cutting move, Governor Tom Corbett (R) awarded a state contract to a Boston-based financial-management company, Public Partnerships LLC, to handle payroll for the state’s in-home care program.

Dire Consequences for Low-Wage Workforce

The transition from 37 local nonprofit agencies to a single payroll-services company in Massachusetts has not gone smoothly, causing chaos for many workers living paycheck to paycheck.

“If our payroll isn’t corrected immediately, I can lose my home, or have my utilities shut off in the middle of winter,” said Laura Hayford, a home care worker from Erie, who has been working 32 hours a week without pay.

“I already had to miss a car payment and am uncertain how I’ll afford prescriptions that I need to stay healthy,” Hayford added.

Personal care aides and home health aides in Pennsylvania earn an average of $9.80 an hour, according to research available at the PHI State Data Center.

Workers who have tried to contact Public Partnerships directly to inquire about their missing paychecks have been met with busy signals or unreturned phone calls, according to an article in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

— by Matthew Ozga

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