Increased funding for home and community based services (HCBS) received a big boost Monday from Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Bob Casey (D-PA).
Releasing a state-by-state breakdown on the benefits of HCBS, the two senators urged Congress to get behind the Biden administration’s proposal to funnel $400 billion into home-based services as part of the American Jobs Plan.
“Investing in home and community-based services [HCBS] is all about improving how we function as a society. It’s basic infrastructure,” Casey said. “If Congress can come together and pass the American Jobs Plan, we will make a substantial difference in the lives of our seniors, individuals with disabilities and the workers who care for them. Making this proposal a reality is a fundamental responsibility.
HCBS provides the opportunity for Medicaid beneficiaries to receive care in their homes, rather than in institutional settings. Federal and state governments spent more than $92 billion on HCBS in 2018. Currently, more than 33.5 million older adults and the disabled receive services and support in their homes, but another 800,000 are on wait lists, sometimes for years.
California has by far the largest number of people receiving HCBS, with 2.4 million seniors and people with disabilities receiving services in their homes, based on fiscal year 2018 data, according to the report. New York has the second highest number, with 1.5 million residents receiving home-based care, per fiscal year 2018 data, the report found.
The Biden plan would bolster the caregiving economy by boosting wages and benefits for home care workers, who currently make a median wage of $12 an hour.
With 70 million baby boomers headed into retirement, Wyden said the federal government must ensure Americans are able to choose where they want to live when it comes to long-term care.
“President Biden’s call for a major investment in home and community based care services is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make that a reality. I’m gratified to be working with Senator Casey to increase access to good-quality long-term care at home and in the community, while also boosting pay and benefits for those who care for seniors and Americans with disabilities,” said Wyden.