Pair of Unemployed Health Care Workers for the Elderly Plan to Protest at RNC in Tampa

By Justin Glawe


When the presumptive GOP presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan converges on the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Monday, it’s not likely they’ll take much notice of the two Peoria women who will be outside the stadium, but that’s not a surprise to Sandra Leathers and Cynthia Rivers.

The two in-home health care providers have a combined 40 years of experience in the field, and lament the cuts to Medicare that resulted in the loss of their jobs in 2010.

“I think they really just don’t care,” Rivers said of the GOP ticket. “But sometimes, you have to walk in someone else’s shoes to know what’s going on.”

Despite their differences with the Republican Party plank, the cuts that cost them their jobs were made while Democrats held both the office of president of the U.S. and governor of Illinois.

To qualify for services like those that Leathers and Rivers used to provide, a patient must be homebound, according to Medicare’s website.

Without the pair, and those who also work in their former field, patients are often admitted into nursing homes, they said.

“If you’re in a nursing home, that’s 215 beds and on first shift you have six aides . . . there’s only so much you can do in an eight-hour shift,” Rivers said. “It’s more expensive for the state (for seniors to be admitted into nursing homes) in the long run.”

Both Leathers and Rivers said they made the same hourly wage as those who work in nursing homes – minimum wage.

Their protest in Tampa will focus on cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and the effect they have had on their personal lives, but also will be a broader statement against the Republican Party.

“After taxes, why, that’s nothing,” Rivers said as Leathers nodded in agreement about their former salaries.”I’m sure minimum wage increases would help, but you know what would be nice? If those rich people paid the same percentage (income tax) that we pay.”

Rivers’ and Leathers’ points of view fall squarely in line with those of the Democratic Party – and the Obama administration – who have been pressuring Romney to release more of his tax returns. Those calls have been made under the guise that Romney hasn’t paid his “fair share” – a familiar phrase for those following both campaigns.

Romney, for his part, said last week that he paid about a 13 percent income tax rate over the past decade, and has released his full tax return from 2010 and a summary of taxes paid in 2011.

Rivers and Leathers said that they’ll be in Tampa to put a face to the jobs lost as a result of the cuts.

“That’s why we’re going, because they wouldn’t miss it; we do,” Rivers said of the loss of in-home care. “We just hope by them seeing us it will get people’s attention.”

About actionnowillinois

Action Now Illinois’s mission is to organize working families and strengthen their voices on issues of racial, social and economic justice. Action Now is active on issues that include foreclosure and vacant properties, school improvement, access to health care, living wage jobs, utility costs, immigrant rights, public safety, (both antiviolence and criminal justice reform), and environmental justice. Action Now Illinois is a member-driven organization. Our issue campaigns come out of listening to community residents through regular monthly meetings, engaging the base by going door-to-door and mobilizing all residents to take part in their community. Our leadership development includes formal leadership training and the active involvement by members in the planning, implementation and evaluation of issue campaigns. Action Now Illinois members are committed to fight for equal rights, equal services, and equal justice for working families. To become a member of Action Now; call (217) 528-1356 or e-mail!
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