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Workers Urge WA Lawmakers Not to Cut Long-Term Care Services

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Washington state lawmakers are looking at a $3.3 billion budget shortfall through 2023. (Robert Ashworth/Flickr)
Washington state lawmakers are looking at a $3.3 billion budget shortfall through 2023. (Robert Ashworth/Flickr)
January 25, 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Home-care providers for older Washingtonians and people with disabilities are pushing back on potential cuts to the state's long-term care services.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been asked to consider cuts, since the pandemic has shot a hole in the state budget. It could mean a $1.1 billion reduction in long-term care services for the 2021 through 2023 budget.

Miranda Bridges, an individual provider and member of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 who cares for her mother, said lawmakers should consider how many people access these services.

"It may come a time for them, or maybe for somebody else that they care about, that they're going to need somebody to be there for their loved ones," Bridges explained. "But if they keep cutting and keep taking away the hours from the home-care workers, it's going to be really tough."

State lawmakers are looking at a $3.3 billion budget shortfall through 2023, according to a forecast from last year.

Bridges noted her mother might not want her to help if Bridges wasn't supported for it financially, which also would mean her mother missing out on some things she enjoys doing.

"Being able to get up and know that you can have your meal, and be able to go in town and be able to do those things that you want to do," Bridges outlined. "But not having that support, not having somebody to be there to provide that assistance for you, can kind of make you feel like, just less of a person."

With the pandemic still affecting the economy, Bridges added losing income could make things more precarious for her.

"If they would take away what I'm getting, it would really put me in a bad situation, where it could come to the point that I wouldn't be able to pay for my mortgage or for my house," Bridges worried. "And so then, that could result in me being kicked out."

SEIU 775 contended cuts could put 10,000 in-home caregivers' jobs at risk, and another 10,000 older people and people with disabilities could be removed from home-care services.

Reporting by Washington News Service funded in part by SEIU Local 775.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA