U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, introduced legislation Thursday that would expand access to home health care by providing more funding towards paying better wages to those that work in the industry.
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.
In a press release Casey noted that 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.
For seniors, 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.
“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,” Casey said. “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.”
Casey is chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging