Study: Immigrants Fill Healthcare Worker Shortage

A study says more workers are needed, but many are exploited, paid low wages.

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Immigrants are solving a labor shortage as the number of people needing care, whether elderly or disabled, grows, according to the report.

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That means, depending on what sort of immigration reform Congress passes, people who become disabled, as well as aging Boomers who require at-home care, would have to shell out more money. A broad bipartisan framework unveiled earlier this year included a path to citizenship for people here illegally. However, exactly how that might look is still under debate.

Allowing people to do these in-home jobs illegally "short-circuits the whole need that people who are approaching that age really ought to be thinking about," says Mehlman. The answer, he says, is for people approaching retirement to either invest in long-term care insurance or "assume some level of personal responsibility" in terms of saving up for care that might be expensive.

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Henrici says it's important to understand how widespread the need could soon become: "We want to avoid exploitation. That needs to be the emphasis. We all need these workers," she says.

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