Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) this week, during National Family Caregivers Month, introduced the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act, a bill that would provide much-needed support to state programs that fund home and community-based care services. Currently, staffing shortages at direct care providers have led to a reduction in HCBS availability, as waitlists for care grow. The HCBS Relief Act would provide dedicated Medicaid funds to states for two years to stabilize their HCBS service delivery networks, recruit and retain HCBS direct care workers, and meet the long-term service and support needs of people eligible for Medicaid home and community-based services. Senator Bob Casey introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
“We know that the majority of individuals who require care would prefer to receive it in their own homes and communities. No one should have to wait years to get the care they deserve, and no care worker should have to live below the poverty line to give this care,” Dingell said. “Caregiving is the foundation of our economy and allows for all other work to be possible. This legislation will provide much-needed investment in our care workforce, making it easier for those who need care to get it, and supporting the caregivers doing this crucial work.”
The HCBS Relief Act of 2023 would provide dedicated Medicaid funds to states for two years to stabilize their HCBS service delivery networks, recruit and retain HCBS direct care workers, and meet the long-term service and support needs of people eligible for Medicaid home and community-based services. States would receive a 10-point increase in the federal match (FMAP) for Medicaid for two fiscal years to enhance HCBS. Funds could be used to increase direct care worker pay, provide benefits such as paid family leave or sick leave, and pay for transportation expenses to and from the homes of those being served. The additional funds also can be used to support family caregivers, pay for recruitment and training of additional direct care workers, and pay for technology to facilitate services. The funds can help decrease or eliminate the waiting lists for HCBS in the states.
Dingell has long been a leader in Congress on expanding access to HCBS. She has introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act and HCBS Access Act to enhance Medicaid funding for home care, 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.