Alumna Leads Effort to Give Massachusetts Home Health Aides a Raise

Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy | August 01, 2014
Lisa Gurgone testifies to increase wages for home health care workers.

Lisa Gurgone testifies to increase wages for home health care workers.
Image by: muna killingback



Most home care aides are single moms, a lot of them are minorities, and they’re really struggling to make ends meet.



Lisa Gurgone, a 2008 alumna of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy’s graduate certificate program, has been at the forefront of an initiative to raise the wages of home health aides.  As executive director of the Home Aide Council since 2000, Gurgone works with state agencies, the Massachusetts legislature, the media, and the general public to inform, advocate, and educate others on health services.  Gurgone’s advocacy was instrumental in the recent approval of an amendment to the Massachusetts state budget that raises the wages of home care workers.

Last month, Gurgone’s tireless advocacy paid off.  The Massachusetts Senate unanimously adopted Senator Patricia Jehlen’s redrafted amendment to provide $6.1 million to fund the Targeted Homemaker Wage Increase. This funding will be used to provide a wage increase of approximately 75 cents per hour for homemakers and personal care homemakers serving clients enrolled in the Executive Office of Elder Affairs Home Program.    
           
Gurgone notes that, “Most home care aides are single moms, a lot of them are minorities, and they’re really struggling to make ends meet.”  She has argued that the low wages cannot sustain a family, hurting not only the worker but her children as well.  In addition, since many of these workers cannot support themselves, they are forced to remain dependent upon government-funded programs, resulting in cycle of poverty.

The rise in personal and state government interest in the home care aid service is no coincidence, explains Gurgone: “With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, accountable care organizations, community-based care transitions, and patient-centered medical homes, home care aides will play an essential role as they assist with monitoring conditions and providing direct daily care to consumers. There has been an increase in the demand of home care workers as our health system continues to shift to a model focused on coordinated, patient-centered care in the community.  “It is now more important than ever for state leaders to establish an adequate rate structure that recognizes the essential role home care aides play in enabling elders and persons with disabilities to remain safely in their homes,” concluded Gurgone.

Gurgone credits the graduate certificate in Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy (formerly the Program for Women in Politics and Public Policy) based at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies for her successful policy initiative:  “The program also provided me with information on the inner workings of state government and the legislature which I use every day.”

The network she built also proved vital: “The program definitely provided me with connections at the State House. It introduced me to a number of individuals at UMass Boston whom I continue to work with in my current position. The networking skills I learned from the program are extremely valuable.”

Tags: alumni , center for women in politics and public policy , women in politics

Comment on this story

Comments (0)