WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.-6) in introducing legislation to expand access to home and community-based services 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.
“Most seniors and people with disabilities would much rather receive the care they need at home, but a lot of families have trouble affording it or finding available caregivers. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would increase Medicaid funding for home and community-based services, ensure home care workers are fairly compensated, and bring relief to the thousands of people who have left the workforce to care for their loved one,” said Murphy.
“The Better Care Better Jobs Act would be a historic investment in caregiving at a moment when our health care system is increasingly overwhelmed and stressed. Workers deserve living wages to care for our loved ones. This commonsense legislation would make it easier for older adults and people with disabilities to receive care in their own homes or communities, eliminating sometimes lengthy wait times to receive critical care, and increasing pay and benefits for caregivers. I urge Congress to pass this law and deliver long overdue care and benefits to our seniors, disabled people and, of course, caregivers,” said Blumenthal.
“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 Casey.
“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. 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,” said Dingell.
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 Senate cosponsors of the Better Care Better Jobs Act are U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mas.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Read more about the Better Care Better Jobs Act here.