Issued August 21, 2018
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Governor Tom Wolf’s program to improve and strengthen home- and community- based services. The ruling marks a major victory for the state’s efforts to address Pennsylvania’s home care crisis and ensure seniors and people with disabilities can live with dignity in their own homes.
“I love my job, and I believe that every Pennsylvanian deserves affordable, quality care at home,” said Michele Olson, a Harrisburg home care worker who works 54 hours a week caring for a 67-year-old with multiple sclerosis. “That’s why home care workers have joined with consumers and advocates to improve and expand home care services in our state. Governor Wolf has championed the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and workers every step of the way. After today’s Supreme Court decision, I’m confident that our voices will be heard and that we can tackle Pennsylvania’s care crisis together.”
Rebuffing a legal challenge from special interest groups and out-of-state billionaires, today’s Supreme Court ruling will allow the Governor to move forward with his 2015 executive order that establishes a voluntary advisory group within the Department of Human Services, and allows home care workers to elect representatives to meet with the agency.
“Today’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision is a victory for seniors, people with disabilities, and homecare workers,” Governor Wolf said. “The court’s decision affirms a key part of my plan to provide choices for seniors, improve home and community-based care and attract more qualified homecare attendants.”
Seniors overwhelmingly prefer to receive care in their own homes for as long as possible. However, there are currently 8 seniors for every one caregiver in Pennsylvania – and the state’s senior population is projected to grow by one million over the next 14 years.
The Commonwealth Foundation and Fairness Center launched a legal challenge to Governor Wolf’s initiative in 2015, with the backing of a network of billionaire-funded groups seeking to silence the voices of everyday families and advance an extremist right-wing agenda in states across the country. In response, the Commonwealth Court struck down aspects of the governor’s program in September 2016, a ruling that was appealed to the Supreme Court and overturned in today’s decision.
The Pennsylvania victory signals working people will continue to fight for the right to join together in a union. Groups including the Centers for Independent Living, AARP, disability rights groups, direct care worker groups and other stakeholders will now be able to work productively and efficiently with elected leaders to ensure Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities have access to the quality care and services they deserve.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. www.seiu.org