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We Need a Budget That Works For All of Us

Andrea Harrington, Home Care Worker, addresses hundreds of Pennsylvanians who rallied in Harrisburg for a People's Budget.

Andrea Harrington, Home Care Worker, addresses hundreds of Pennsylvanians who rallied in Harrisburg for a People’s Budget.

My name is Andrea Harrington. I’m a home care worker and I’m also a minister.

As a home health care worker, I have to ensure that my two consumers are able to get out of bed, get something to eat, live their life. My one client who is a paraplegic can’t do a lot of these things for himself. He has some mobility once he gets to his chair, but he can’t get there himself. My hands, my feet, they are his to live his life when I’m at work.

My granddaughter Milan is on dialysis. When she comes from dialysis three times a week she has no energy. She can’t sleep, wash dishes, cook. Sometimes I have to help her up the stairs to get to her room. Without some help getting her pills or her insulin, she won’t even be strong enough to go to dialysis.

All that to say — I work hard and I do an important job.

I get paid weekly, and when I get $475 in a week, well, that’s only half my mortgage payment. So two weeks of my pay goes right to my mortgage. That leaves me with $950 for everything else.

Most months, I’ve got about $200 left to buy food. And that’s for four people.

I can’t even afford to pay my health coverage, so I have to rely on Medicaid for my own coverage. But they’re talking about cutting that by $200 million!

I’m asthmatic and I have another set of chronic, life-threatening health issues that I’d rather not discuss. I don’t make enough on $10 an hour to afford the medication I need if I had to pay it out of pocket.

So let’s put it this way, if I don’t get my medication, I will die. So now you’re telling me with this cut to Medicaid that my life is not worth anything, because you want to give tax cuts to corporations and the super rich.

And this isn’t just about me. It’s about my consumers too.

If they can’t depend on me and on my health, they can’t plan their lives. They can’t live their fullest lives, because they can’t count on me being healthy enough to be there to help them get out of bed in the morning.

If I lose my coverage, I’d end up being another consumer and another burden. Why not keep my coverage so I can get the medication I need and help them get the care they need?

It’s the right thing to do, and frankly, it would save the state more money.

But here’s the thing, we can talk about makes sense or what would save money. But that’s ridiculous.

We live in the richest nation in the history of the world, and I think it’s an atrocity that if I work 78 hours in a week — not two weeks, in a week — that I have to stand in a welfare office and ask for Medicaid. I think it is an atrocity that all of the taxes that I pay, as hard as I work, I have to stand in the hollows of this hall and beg you not to kill me.

Andrea Harrington shared her story with hundreds of Pennsylvanians rallying in Harrisburg on June 5th for a state budget that puts people before corporations — a People’s Budget.


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