The Better Care Better Jobs Act would expand access to long-term care, enabling older adults and people with disabilities to receive quality care and remain in their communities
WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and colleagues to introduce 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 would enhance Medicaid funding for home care, helping many of the more than 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.
“My family has seen firsthand how home- and community-based services provide the support that people need to engage in and thrive in their communities – and this is possible because of dedicated caregivers,” said Senator Hassan. “It is essential that we expand access to these services for seniors and individuals with disabilities, while also lifting up the caregiving workforce by increasing pay and improving benefits. This legislation takes important steps to do just that, and I will continue working to move it forward.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the ongoing shortage of caregivers, and families need resources to care for their loved ones. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which will provide crucial investments in home and community-based services while also providing necessary support for the caregiving workforce,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’ll keep working in the Senate to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities can continue to access affordable, critical services in the setting that best meets their needs.”
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.