Home care worker tends to patient

President Joseph Biden on Wednesday unveiled a $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which would pump $400 billion into home- and community-based services.

The administration said the plan would “solidify the infrastructure for the care economy by creating jobs and raising the wages and benefits for essential home care workers.”

More specifically for the home care industry, according to the administration, the plan would expand access to HCBS under Medicaid and extend the longstanding Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care.

The plan also would increase jobs and make it easier for workers to organize. It would put in place an infrastructure to “create good middle-class jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union.” 

“This will improve wages and quality of life for essential home health workers and yield significant economic benefits for low-income communities and communities of color,” a fact sheet about the plan states.

Call for support

Home care providers, who have been pushing the administration to increase access to HCBS, immediately voiced their approval. William Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, called on Congress and the American public to support the plan.

“It is time we honor our parents and grandparents with the opportunity to age in place and to provide full access to the least restrictive healthcare environment for persons with disabilities. The benefits of home care are long established,” Dombi said in a statement.

The Home Care Association of America (HCAOA), whose membership includes Medicaid-supported home care providers, also praised the plan, saying that it strongly recognizes the importance of caring for loved ones in their homes.

“A strong investment in our caregiving workforce, particularly those in the Medicaid program, is critical and we continue to advocate for increased Medicaid reimbursements for home-and-community-based care so our caregivers are paid fair wages,” HCAOA Executive Director Vicki Hoak told McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

Push to keep promise

Biden campaigned on a promise to direct $450 billion to HCBS. Earlier this week, more than 100 lawmakers sent a letter to the White House urging the president to keep his word.

“There is a crisis in caregiving that has plagued seniors, families and health care workers alike for too long, since before the COVID-19 pandemic began,” the leadership of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families said in a statement Wednesday. “Too many families and caregivers — predominantly women — feel unseen as they struggle to provide for the health, safety and dignity of their loved ones. Today’s announcement is an acknowledgment that House Democrats and the Biden-Harris administration see you and that help is on the way.”

The home care industry is among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — accounting for around 3.4 million jobs. The sector is expected to grow 34% over the next decade. Despite the demand, the median hourly wage for home care workers is less than $13.

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