Home health aides protest at Reschenthaler’s Greensburg office

Home health aides protest at Reschenthaler’s Greensburg office

A group of about two dozen home care workers and community activists converged on U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s Greensburg office Wednesday to rally support for the American Jobs Act and speak to the role low-paid caregivers play in the nation’s health system.

The group — led by United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, a statewide organization representing caregivers who provide in-home services to elderly and disabled individuals — has been targeting GOP congressmen across the state with the message that workers need the financial boost that President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs Act would provide through a $400 billion investment in home health care.

Bonnie Delaney, 74, of Kittanning, was among the caregivers who marched on Reschenthaler’s office, seeking the congressman’s support for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

“Your lunch money is a day’s wages for us. … We as in-home caregivers need $15 an hour for an essential wage. We can’t pay our rent, we can’t afford child care. It’s just not enough money,” Delaney said.

Reschenthaler, R-Peters, has been harshly critical of Biden’s proposed spending plan. He tweeted that Biden’s spending represents a “liberal wish-list” and charged that the president’s spending is fueling inflation.

The congressman was not on hand to meet with the small group of protesters. But district director Nate Nevala, who met with the group, took issue with their claims that the congressman unilaterally opposed to the bill.

“The bill has not been voted on. He has not signed on to it, but he is still taking information from his constituents on it,” Nevala said, taking notes as the group pressed their issues with him.

The proposal to fund home health care as part of an infrastructure bill comes on the heels of years of warnings about a growing shortage of direct care workers. But it has gained little traction among GOP lawmakers in the sharply divided Congress where the Biden administration has been at a loss to hammer out a bipartisan agreement on spending for traditional infrastructure, such as transportation and water projects.

Nevala declined to comment on what kind of input Reschenthaler’s local office has had on the issue. He referred that question to Reschenthaler’s Washington office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reschenthaler isn’t the only member of the Pennsylvania delegation to be targeted by the group.

Group spokeswoman Jenn Wood said they have held protests hoping to rally support for their cause at the district offices of Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly of Butler, Glenn Thompson of Clearfield County and Dan Mueser of Luzerne County.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, derdley@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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