Following a die-in at the Legislative Office Building earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont has decided to extend the enrollment period for home care workers who want to apply for a health insurance stipend.
The home care workers or Personal Care Attendants (PCAs), who are represented by SEIU 1199, had negotiated a benefit package that included a stipend that would allow them to pay for health insurance last May. However, when they were actually able to apply they were given very little time and only about 30 of the 1,500 who may have qualified received the benefit.
Lamont’s administration said they were able to work out a deal to extend the enrollment period through April 7.
“Our personal care attendants provide valuable services to our most vulnerable residents, helping them to continue to live independently and under their own terms,” Lamont said in a statement. “Providing our PCAs with the opportunity to enroll in Access Health CT is the right thing to do, and I am proud that Connecticut is one of the first states that is making this available for this workforce. I encourage every one of our PCAs who are not enrolled in health coverage to sign up for this important benefit.”
Rob Baril, president of SEIU 1199, thanked Lamont for extending the deadline.
“This represents a significant step to drive gender equity and economic justice for the majority Black, Latina and white working-class women who make up this dedicated workforce,” Baril said. “Personal care attendants will continue working together with consumers and state officials to ensure that home care services can evolve into sustainable careers as the demand to receive care at home for the elderly and people with disabilities keeps surging.”
However, there are still concerns about how the new enrollment period will be advertised to workers since a majority of them only speak Spanish.
The union is hoping that the state can build a system in both English and Spanish to provide health insurance for poor workers, many of whom are still making around $17 an hour.
Earlier this month the Lamont administration said it was not their responsibility under the contract to do any outreach to these workers.
As of Wednesday, the Lamont administration said these workers can expect to receive communication about the benefits from the union and the fiscal intermediary about how they can enroll in the program.