January 27, 2023

Whitehouse, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Provide Historic, Permanent Investment in Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Bill would boost economy by allowing millions of family caregivers to re-enter the workforce and enabling people with disabilities to work and contribute to their communities

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined colleagues U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI-6) 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 life-sustaining care.

“The Better Care Better Jobs Act will help ensure that our health care workforce is adequately paid and receives the support to in turn provide the highest quality care,” said Whitehouse.  “Investing in Rhode Island’s caregiver workforce will pay dividends for health care and the economy over the long term.”

The Better Care Better Jobs Act 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.

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.

Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

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