Celebrating a Win Along The Way
Something really big happened in our campaign to build a more feminist economy. In Albany, both houses of the New York legislature reintroduced the New York Health Act, now with the inclusion of long-term care, the care needed most by people with disabilities, seniors, and our families. Winning universal long-term care and dignified care jobs has been the central effort of the New York Caring Majority for the past several years. With this long-term care amendment, the New York Health Act has now become the most progressive, comprehensive, and feminist single-payer bill anywhere in the country. This is the bold action that New Yorkers voted for in November. This is the courageous leadership that we are looking to our new Democratic Majority to show. It’s time for New York to lead the nation and set the agenda by passing the New York Health Act.
A Reason to Celebrate!
Even as the movement for Medicare for All grows and politicians shift to embrace single payer healthcare, long-term care and the needs of caregivers — overwhelmingly women — are often forgotten or presented as an afterthought. The truth is this: any new health care system that fails to incorporate a robust and comprehensive approach to long-term care will ultimately leave the majority of us behind. Our progressive coalition threw down the gauntlet with yesterday’s reintroduction, setting the agenda for what single-payer healthcare needs to look like if it’s actually going to work for women, People of Color, elders, and people with disabilities.
Yesterday’s reintroduction of the NY Health Act represents a massive win along the way, but we haven’t won single-payer healthcare and universal long-term care just yet. For that, we need your help. Will you join our movement to pass the New York Health Act and create a more caring economy? Email and let us know, and like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Why Long-Term Care?
Long-term care, which is not covered by Medicare, allows older adults and people with disabilities to have the choice to stay in their homes with independence and dignity. Long-term care is also the fastest-growing occupational sector in the state, one in which women make up over 90% of the workforce.
Like everyone, I have a care story. My grandmother Laurie was a caregiver all her life; she worked as a nurse at Saint Vincent’s hospital and raised four sons, including my father, in Queens. When she began to develop Alzheimer’s disease, my dad and his brothers were prepared to do whatever it took to return the favor and provide her with a dignified life. That would only be possible with the support of home care workers. We began paying for her care out of pocket, but within a few years she had burned through her savings. We decided to sell her house to shore up an additional nest egg, all to pay for the home care that enabled her to continue living at home, which we knew was her wish. She turned 92 in December and is doing great, mostly thanks to the care she receives from my dad and uncles, and from her caregiver Barbara, who she refers to as her “guardian angel.”
The Fight for a Feminist Economy:
Through my work as a community organizer at JFREJ, I’ve talked with hundreds of people, mostly women, on the front lines of the elder boom, struggling in isolation to navigate this often incomprehensible system and ensure basic dignity for themselves and their loved ones. At JFREJ, we’ve done that organizing in powerful partnership with the domestic worker movement since the year 2000, with a focus on engaging employers of nannies, housekeepers, and home care workers. I fell in love with this work through the Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) campaign, which transformed my understanding of feminism, solidarity, and mutual interest. In addition, I came to new understandings of what’s possible in our movement when we center aging, disability, and interdependence in our organizing. Over the last few decades, our organization has been imagining what it could mean to build a movement, full of heart and nuance, to truly cherish all bodies and respect all work.
Our movement passed the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010. In 2011, JFREJ leaders went on to found Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network and help shape Caring Across Generations nationally. We began organizing Jewish elders, as our work expanded into the broader fight to strengthen our social safety net and create a more caring feminist economy. In 2016, we joined Hand in Hand and the National Domestic Workers Alliance in forming the New York Caring Majority, an unprecedented coalition of seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, home care workers, and domestic workers from all across the state. Together, we’ve been building a movement for universal long-term care and the creation of millions of new jobs in the home care sector. We envision a feminist 21st century care infrastructure that allows all people to live well and thrive.
Join the New York Caring Majority:
Clearly yesterday’s reintroduction and amendment are the result of years of organizing by women, seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, unions, domestic workers, home care workers, undocumented people, and the uninsured. We call ourselves the Caring Majority because we know that when we join forces and refuse to be pitted against each other, we are an unstoppable force, capable of transforming our economy on every level.
And our work isn’t over yet. Will you take action with us to be part of this historic and moral movement to cherish all bodies and respect all work?
- Plan or join a #HealthCareHero action to bring our care stories to our electeds every single week until our bill is passed. Sign up here to participate, and click here to learn how.
- Join our weekly organizing call to hear updates and learn how you can take action with us. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for call details.