Home care and aging services providers are optimistic the care economy will get the funding it needs, despite being left out of a new infrastructure deal between the White House and a bipartisan team of senators.
Shortly after President Biden announced the infrastructure agreement last Thursday, Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and a bipartisan congressional team introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act. Among the main provisions of the bill, it would permanently increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for states by 10%. As one condition for receiving these dollars, states would have to address HCBS payment rates to promote recruitment and retention of direct care workers.
“This legislation is critical to advancing equity, spurring economic recovery and improving quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities,” Casey said.
That bill gave National Association of Home Care & Hospice President William Dombi hope the home care industry will get the funding it needs to meet the growing demand from aging Americans.
“We believe the administration and many members of Congress are committed to continuing the effort to provide crucial support for families as the need for home care grows,” Dombi said. “Caring for our citizens affects all aspects of our society, including our economy and the future of our children.”
The infrastructure plan the president rolled out in March included $400 billion for the care economy. But Republicans aggressively pushed back on the plan’s nearly $2 trillion price tag and finally agreed on a $600 billion dollar package that invests in roads, broadband and electric utilities.
Help for care economy
LeadingAge, which represents more than 5,000 aging service providers, was pushing for senior housing, as well as home care jobs and HCBS in the infrastructure plan. While the Better Care Better Jobs Act doesn’t address housing, LeadingAge said it does prop up the care economy.
“This bill would mean better pay and benefits for care professionals, when almost half of home care worker households must currently depend on some form of public assistance,” LeadingAge President Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement. “And it would provide some relief for more than 40 million Americans who provide some form of unpaid caregiving for an older adult — at an average of 34 unpaid hours a week in care.”
Although the president admitted he didn’t get everything he wanted in the infrastructure plan, he said he was optimistic the “human” elements left out of the plan would be addressed in future legislation.