VIDEO: Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Provide Historic, Permanent Investment in Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined 37 of her Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to expand access to home and community-based services for older adults, people with disabilities, and injured workers, while increasing pay and improving benefits for the caregivers who provide this life-sustaining care. The Better Care Better Jobs Act, led by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), 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. This legislation would also strengthen the caregiving workforce, improve quality of life for families, and boost the economy by creating good-paying jobs to make it possible for families and workers alike to thrive economically.
“Millions of people across the country rely on Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) and hundreds of thousands more are still waiting to receive the support they need,” said Senator Hirono. “By expanding HCBS services, this bill will enable more people in Hawaii and across the country to access the care they need in home and community-based settings. In Hawaii, the Better Care Better Jobs Act would create almost 1,500 new home care jobs, raise wages for care workers, and make it possible for over 3,000 family caregivers to return to the workforce. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation again and will continue working to support our country’s caregiving workforce and expand access to quality HCBS services.”
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need to ensure that all Americans have the option to receive quality, long-term care in the setting that meets their needs and preferences, and the vast majority of Americans prefer to receive such care and support at home. While all states provide coverage for some home care services, there are significant variations and gaps in coverage due to varying eligibility and benefits standards. 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.
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.
The House companion of the bill was introduced by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI). In addition to Senators Hirono and Casey, the bill was also cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Fetterman (D-PA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
A one-page summary of the bill is available here. Video of Senator Hirono discussing the legislation is available here.
Next Article Previous Article