Washington In-Home Care Services, Initiative 775 (2001)

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The Washington In-Home Care Services Initiative, also known as Initiative Measure 775, was on the November 6, 2001 election ballot as an Initiative to the People in Washington, where it was approved. This initiative creates a Home Care Quality Authority, governed by a board appointed by the Washington Governor.

Election results

Washington Initiative Measure 775 (2001)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 880,523 62.8%
No522,84837.2%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Initiative Measure No. 775 concerns long-term in-home care services. This measure would create a “home care quality authority” to establish qualifications, standards, accountability, training, referral and employment relations for publicly funded individual providers of in-home care services to elderly and disabled adults.

Should this measure be enacted into law?[3]

Path to the ballot

The petition was filed on April 6, 2001 by Lars Hennum of Seattle, Deana Knutsen of Lynnwood, and Katrinka Gentile of Shoreline. 304,327 signatures were submitted and found sufficient.

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[4]

I-775 WILL HELP SENIORS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES LIVE AT HOME WITH DIGNITY AND INDEPENDENCE

Home care helps tens of thousands of Washington seniors and people with disabilities stay in their own homes. Home care workers bathe, dress, and feed their consumers; lift them from beds into wheelchairs; and assist with bowel and bladder care, medication schedules, household management, and other tasks these consumers can’t do on their own.

AS WASHINGTON’S ELDERLY POPULATION GROWS, WHO WILL CARE FOR THEM?

Seniors are having a harder time finding reliable and trained home care workers. Too many families face the hard choice of institutionalizing their parents and grandparents in nursing homes because there is no place to go to find qualified caregivers.

HELP SENIORS AND THEIR FAMILIES FIND QUALIFIED CAREGIVERS

I-775 creates a caregiver registry so families have a way to find qualified home care workers. For the first time consumers will have access to a list of trained caregivers who have passed criminal and employment background checks.

INTRODUCE REAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND STANDARDS

Right now, no one is holding the home care program accountable to consumers or taxpayers. I-775 requires a performance audit of Washington’s home care program every two years and empowers a consumer board of seniors and people with disabilities to set minimum quality standards, improve training, and increase accountability.

ADDRESS THE SHORTAGE OF CAREGIVERS

As Washington’s population grows older, high turnover and wages barely above minimum wage have led to a shortage of caregivers. I-775 establishes worker recruitment programs and helps workers make a profession of providing quality home care by receiving better training and negotiating for a living wage and benefits.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Katrinka Gentile, home care consumer, chair, disability rights group ADAPT, responds:

“Don’t be misled by the opposition’s anti-union rhetoric. The AFL-CIO contributed only 1% of campaign funds (source: Public Disclosure Commission). “I-775 improves care for seniors and disabled people. I-775 helps us find qualified caregivers so we can live at home. I-775 outlaws strikes, protects our right to fire caregivers, and requires the Governor to submit funding for home care improvements. Yes for Quality Home Care.”[3]

Supporters

The following individuals signed the argument in support of Initiative 775 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Lars Hennum, President, Washington Council of Senior Citizens
  • Katrinka Gentile, disability activist
  • Rev. John Boonstra, Executive Minister, Washington Association of Churches
  • Louise Kaplan, President, Washington State Nurses Association
  • Kimberly Simpson, home care worker
  • Deanna Knutsen, elected Hospital Commissioner

Opposition

Arguments against

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[5]

I-775 LOOKS GOOD. WHY WOULD ANYONE, ESPECIALLY A DISABILITY RIGHTS GROUP OPPOSE IT?

The so-called “Home Care Quality Initiative” is misnamed. I-775 is primarily a labor initiative - it allows individual providers of Personal Assistance Services (PAS) to unionize. That is why the AFL-CIO is financing the campaign for the initiative. If I-775 passes, providers will be able to unionize – but the initiative fails to provide funding for any of the authorized activities that would most benefit PAS users.

DOESN’T I-775 HAVE “QUALITY ASSURANCE” PROVISIONS FOR SENIORS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?

I-775 talks about standards and training, but does not require the Legislature to fund those provisions. With or without I-775, PAS users must continue to seek funding for the quality assurance they need.

I-775 CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT ADDRESSES THE RIGHTS OF PAS USERS, SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

The protections are inadequate. I-775 bans strikes, but provides no penalties if work stoppages occur. It appears to protect PAS user rights to hire and fire individual providers, but says nothing about a standard for termination. When unions engage in collective bargaining, one of their core principles is that any termination of employment be for “just cause.”

PAS users, however, need stronger protections. Personal Assistants at times perform the most intimate of tasks including bathing and toileting. A PAS user does not want to justify why they terminate someone and certainly does not want to be bathed by a provider they tried unsuccessfully to fire.

WILL PAS USERS LOSE ANY OF THEIR RIGHTS IF I-775 PASSES?

It’s possible. Many of the rights that PAS users currently exercise as employers will become subject to the collective bargaining process under I-775. In that process, the Governor will appoint representatives for PAS users, while providers will choose their own representatives.

Rebuttal of Statement For

Does I-775 help PAS users find qualified workers by creating a caregiver registry? The state is already piloting a registry project. I-775 is redundant. Does I-775 “introduce accountability and standards”? I-775 cannot assure quality home care without funding from the Legislature. I-775 creates an unfunded mandate. Does I-775 benefit seniors and people with disabilities? No! I-775 takes away their right to negotiate with personal service workers and gives that right to government appointees.[3]

Opponents

The following individuals signed the argument in opposition of Initiative 775 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Phil Jordan, Washington Protection and Advocacy System
  • Joan Coffin, Project PAS – Port for Change Steering Committee
  • Marshall Mitchell

See also

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