WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen joined their colleagues in introducing the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Access Act, which would over time, eliminate the lengthy waiting lists for home care services. Although many seniors and people with disabilities have reported a preference for receiving care at home, due to long wait lists they are sometimes forced live in an institutional setting in order to receive the care that they need. The HCBS Access Act would put home care on equal footing with long-term care facilities under Medicaid, ensuring that eligible older adults and people with disabilities have a real choice of care and support options.
“Many people would prefer to receive care in their own home – and it is critical that we give them the choice between home and institutional care,” said Senator Hassan. “Expanding access to home and community-based care benefits those receiving care, their family members, and care providers. I urge my colleagues to support this bill as we work together to support seniors and individuals who experience disabilities.”
“The current Medicaid HCBS system makes it difficult for older adults and those with disabilities to receive the services they need in a setting of their choice. That must change,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I’m helping introduce the HCBS Access Act, which expands Medicaid HCBS funding that will help ensure Americans don’t have unnecessary delays in accessing the care they need. This bill is an important investment not only in the accessibility of care, but also in creating better jobs for home care workers and support for family caregivers.”
People eligible for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) are offered immediate access to nursing homes or other institutional settings. However, if they want to remain in their homes with the help of Medicaid HCBS, they are often put on a waiting list and can wait years or even decades for direct care services as Medicaid will not pay for home care unless a waiver has been granted. Because so many people are on waiting lists for Medicaid HCBS, most long-term care is provided by family, and most family caregivers are unpaid. The average family caregiver spends over a quarter of their income on caregiving activities and many must forgo promotions or work reduced hours in order to provide care.
Senators Hassan and Shaheen recently joined colleagues in introducing the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which includes additional measures to expand and support the caregiving workforce.