The bill would enhance funding for home care and expand access to services.
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI-6) introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act this week to expand access to home and community-based services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and injured workers, and to improve pay and benefits for caregivers.
"I was lucky to have my husband John receive care at home, which showed me the significant fractures in this system, from low wages for workers to … so many people not knowing how to get the care they desperately need," Dingell said in a statement.
The pandemic highlighted many Americans' preference to receive care or "age in place" in the comfort of their home. However, states only provide coverage for some home care services, creating significant gaps for some individuals due to eligibility and benefits standards.
According to a release on the details of the bill, home care workers earn a median wage of $13 per hour, with few or no benefits, and about 18% of them live in poverty, which contributes to the sector's high turnover rates.
"The Better Care Better Jobs Act is a generational investment in home care," Casey, who also serves as chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in a statement. "It's about both caring for our loved ones and making the smart economic choice for families and communities across all levels of the government to strengthen this workforce," he said.
"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It's an American issue."
Some key objectives of the Better Care Better Jobs Act include:
- States will receive a permanent 10% increase in Medicaid match funding for delivering Medicaid home and community-based services by strengthening and expanding access to them and their workforce
- Encourage innovative models that benefit direct care workers and care recipients
- Support quality and accountability
- Facilitate state planning
- Permanent spousal impoverishment protections
- Make the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration permanent