As I listened to lawmakers promote the Better Care Better Jobs Act on Monday, I was struck by how personal the discussion around home care is. Basically, it is one of those great equalizers that puts everyone, from United States cabinet secretaries to low-income workers, on the same plane.
Several on the call, which included prominent senators, representatives and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, offered up their personal experiences as caregivers.
It was hard, for example, not to relate to Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), who spoke about caring for her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history.
Dingell, who introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act in the House, spoke of “banging her head against the wall” and “breaking down in tears” as she tried to navigate a complicated long-term care system.
She was luckier than most, she said. She could keep her husband at home.
“I just had to figure out how to make a totally broken bureaucracy even work,” she said.
Also on the call, Raimondo talked about caring for her mother and two teenage children and Susan Wild (D-PA) spoke about her mom who received hospice at home.
It was “only because of precious home care workers that I could take a break and sleep in the evenings,” Wild said.
It is stories like these that bode well for the passage of Better Care Better Jobs, which would invest about $400 billion in Medicaid home care. After all, who on Capitol Hill hasn’t been touched — directly or indirectly — by old age, medical issues, the long-term care system and the frustration that comes with this territory?
It may be the universal aspect of these issues, along with the pandemic, which made home care an attractive long-term care option and revealed the value of caregivers, that will push the legislation over the top.
Home care providers, meanwhile, are fortunate to have built-in champions in Washington. In many cases, these powerful lawmakers not just are speaking for constituents. They also are sticking up for themselves.
Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected] and follow her @LizaBerger19.