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Dingell, Casey Introduce Bill to Provide Historic, Permanent Investment in Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced legislation to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults, people with disabilities, and injured workers, while increasing pay and improving benefits for the caregivers who provide this life-sustaining care. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would enhance Medicaid funding for home care, helping many of the over 650,000 people on waiting lists nationally finally receive care in the setting of their choice, allowing them to stay active in their communities, and live independently. This legislation would also strengthen the caregiving workforce, improve quality of life for families, and boost the economy by creating good paying jobs to make it possible for families and workers alike to thrive economically. 

“We have a caregiving crisis in this country that has been worsened by the Coronavirus pandemic. More than 50% of Americans 50 or older serve as a caregiver, and family caregivers need relief. As many know, this is deeply personal for me – I was lucky to have my husband John receive care at home, which showed me the significant fractures in this system, from low wages for workers to thousands on HCBS waitlists to so many people not knowing how to get the care they desperately need,” Dingell said. “Aging Americans and individuals with disabilities overwhelmingly prefer to receive care in the comfort of their homes and within their communities. Better Care Better Jobs moves us closer toward ensuring that no one must wait to get the care they deserve, and no care worker has to live below the poverty line to provide this care. I thank Senator Casey for his continued partnership in this fight.”

“The United States is in the midst of a caregiving crisis. Across this Nation, seniors and people with disabilities are struggling to find and afford care, forcing families to make difficult decisions like leaving the workforce in order to care for a loved one. For too long, many families thought this was a personal issue that they had to deal with on their own but now, countless families across the Nation know that they are not alone in this fight and that there is a solution. The Better Care Better Jobs Act is a generational investment in home care—it’s about both caring for our loved ones and making the smart economic choice for families and communities across all levels of the government to strengthen this workforce. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s an American issue,” said Chairman Casey.    

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need to ensure that all Americans have the option to receive quality, long-term care in the setting that meets their needs and preferences, and the vast majority of Americans prefer to receive such care and support at home. While all states provide coverage for some home care services, there are significant variations and gaps in coverage due to varying eligibility and benefits standards. The home care workforce – a majority of whom are women and people of color – earn a median wage of $13 per hour with few or no benefits while providing life-sustaining care. Roughly 18 percent of these workers live in poverty. This results in exceptionally high annual turnover rates, estimated to be above 60 percent. 

The Better Care Better Jobs Act would increase payment rates to promote recruitment and retention of direct care workers, increase wages, and develop and update training opportunities. The legislation would provide support to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to conduct oversight and encourage innovation to benefit direct care workers and care recipients.

The House co-leads of the Better Care Better Jobs Act are U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).

“We cannot truly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic without an investment in our care infrastructure and care workforce," said Rep. Schakowsky. “The Better Care Better Jobs Act would invest $400 billion into home and community-based care services, create more than 1 million jobs across the country, and make good on President Biden’s promise to invest in the nation's care infrastructure. We must start paying a livable wage to the workers who take care of our nation's most vulnerable - our seniors and our children and individuals living with disabilities. We must value unpaid family caregivers by offering compensation in acknowledgment of their contribution to society. I will not rest until our hardworking care workers have the resources they need and deserve.”

“Across the nation, seniors and Americans with disabilities should have access to quality, long-term care in the setting that best meets their needs,” said Rep. Matsui. “Unfortunately, HCBS care is out of reach for far too many, with hundreds of thousands of people on waiting lists and unable to get the care they desperately need. The Better Care Better Jobs Act makes historic investments to help us close these gaps in care while ensuring that we support the direct care workforce that looks after our families and loved ones.”

The Senate cosponsors of the Better Care Better Jobs Act are U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Fetterman (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Read more about the Better Care Better Jobs Act here.

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