“They care for Michigan’s most vulnerable; we should care for them” writes 2020 policy fellow Michelle Meade in Bridge

July 15, 2020 | Bridge Magazine, In The Media

Image of Michelle MeadeMichelle Meade, co-director of the Center for Disability Health and Wellness at U-M and one of CHRT’s 2020 health policy fellows, is in Bridge Magazine. “They care for Michigan’s most vulnerable; we should care for them,” writes Meade, referring to the caregivers who have shown up to support “the lives, health, and functioning of others” during the coronavirus pandemic and, in the process, “put their own health and lives at risk.”

“Quality caregiving can allow [Michiganders] to obtain and maintain employment, to manage health and secondary conditions, and to stay out of hospitals and nursing homes,” writes Meade. But in Michigan, she says, unpaid caregivers put their own health, employment and income at risk and paid caregivers can typically make more working at McDonalds where they may also qualify for medical insurance and other benefits.

“While the low wages of these essential workers may be unlikely to change any time soon – particularly in light of the economic recession we expect to result from the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Meade, “there are other steps that local and state players can take to support this class of essential workers.” Meade’s top three ideas include tax credits and deductions, subsidized health insurance, and strengthened transportation options.

“We know that permanently increasing wages for caregivers may seem overwhelming and infeasible; however, we cannot allow the perceived inability to do that thing prevent us from doing anything,” writes Meade.