Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sneak Peek: I-1029 Article

You get a first look at an article that will appear in the Chamber's newsletter later this month about Initiative 1029 (it hasn't even been edited yet).

The Chamber’s Board will be voting on a resolution to oppose Initiative 1029, a state-wide measure that mandates additional training, additional background checks and disciplinary standards for long-term care workers for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

On the surface, this measure appears worthy of support. But after the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council reviewed the measure, they determined the initiative was too time-consuming (especially for smaller care-giving organizations), burdensome and duplicative.

“It doesn’t make sense to have an FBI background check on care-givers, which adds cost and time constraints, when the State Patrol already does one now,” said Gary Nomensen, Vice Chair of the Public Affairs Council.

The Public Affairs Council determined the initiative will eliminate jobs, limited care options, does not allow training to be tailored to specific situations, and forces expensive training on workers when there is no evidence showing it would actually improve care.

The impact on families was highlighted as well. “This initiative will make it more expensive for families to have basic care provided for their family members,” said Hans Hechtman, who served on the Public Affairs Council. He added, “It will even force paid family members to take unnecessary and expensive training before caring for one of their family members. In other words, a mother who has cared for her child since birth would be unable to provide care services to that same child if they were to become disabled.”

The cost to benefits ratio was a major factor for many Public Affairs Council members. "The Office of Financial Management estimates it will cost taxpayers at least $135 million for the next five years,” said Ray Tennison, a Public Affairs Council member. “This is an expensive solution to problems that don’t exist.”

The Public Affairs Council recommended the resolution to the Chamber’s Board of Directors to oppose this measure and the vote will take place by the end of September (after this article goes to press).

This issue actually began near the end of the last legislative session, when a workgroup selected by Governor Gregoire of senior care providers, elected officials and industry advocates reviewed training issues for Washington State’s long-term care workers. The review process of the workgroup found no evidence that exceptional amounts of training hours would increase the quality of care.

According to sources, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had participated in the process, turned its back on the work done collectively with these experts. After their legislation was rejected by democrats in the legislature last session, the union collected enough signatures to offer a ballot measure this November.

The measure alarms many long-term care workers and businesspeople in the industry.

“If this initiative passes in November, it will likely put me out of business,” said Randy Walden, owner of Heartwarming Care and recent winner of the Chamber’s Minority-owned Business Award. Mr. Walden fears the excessive training demanded by this measure will burden his business with additional costs and limit his ability to schedule his employees, who work directly in the homes of their clients.

Having spent nearly a year serving on the Governor’s workgroup responsible for reviewing these issues, he expressed his frustration having one of the key partners in that endeavor abandon the group’s collective work.

Mr. Walden will be at the Chamber’s Board meeting when it discusses the resolution to oppose Initiative 1029 and he intends to speak. “This initiative is wrong for the industry, bad for business, but even more, it will hurt the seniors and disabled folks it claims to help. The Chamber’s Board needs to vote for this resolution and its members need to stop this initiative in November by voting NO.”

Go to the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at for the results of the Chamber Board’s vote and for additional resources. [Ignore that part. The resources are below.]

Office of Financial Management: I-1029 Impacts

No on Initiative I-1029: Community Care Coalitation

Governor Gregoire's Workgroup Final Report

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