Legislation would expand access to home care and community supports for seniors and people with disabilities and invest in home care workers
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are introducing the Better Care Better Jobs Act, a key element of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) and Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) introduced the House companion. This legislation would make a historic investment in home and community-based services by strengthening and expanding access to quality home care services and lifting up the caregiving workforce that provides them.
“For millions of families, and especially for women, home and community-based services are a bridge to work and a bridge to economic security. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would not only enable more older adults and people with disabilities to remain in their homes, stay active in their communities and lead independent lives, it would also create jobs and lead to higher wages for care workers, who are predominantly women and people of color. This legislation is critical to advancing equity, spurring economic recovery and improving quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Chairman Casey.
“For too long, seniors and Americans with disabilities who want the choice of good quality long-term care at home and the workers who provide it have gotten short shrift. This bill lays out a transformational investment through Medicaid that will begin to set that right so receiving good quality care in the comfort and safety of home is a real possibility. It is also critical that the workforce who provides home care receive a liveable wage, and that family caregivers have more supports when they provide care to their loved ones. I will continue working with my colleagues and the President to pass this key pillar of the American Jobs Plan,” said Chairman Wyden.
“I am proud to introduce the Better Care Better Jobs Act with Senate Democrats as part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “The Better Care Better Jobs Act would make a massive investment in home and community-based services to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities have the right to live in their homes while getting the care they need. Furthermore, it will finally treat the home care workforce like the essential workers they are and ensure they are paid fair wages. The COVID-19 pandemic shown a painful magnifying glass on how our country is currently falling well short of those goals. We must do better. I will work tirelessly with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to get this proposal signed into law.”
“In Washington state and across the country, I hear from people with disabilities and older Americans who are relegated to institutions and from caregivers—who are disproportionately women of color—who aren’t getting the wages or benefits they deserve. It’s clear we’ve got a caregiving crisis, and we desperately need a caregiving infrastructure,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’m proud to introduce the Better Care Better Jobs Act alongside Senators Casey, Schumer and Wyden to help make home and community-based services available to every eligible American and invest in the essential workforce that provides these services. This bold plan is good for people with disabilities and older Americans, good for caregivers, and good for our economy—and I’ll be fighting as hard as I can to get it across the finish line.”
“No one should have to wait to get the care they deserve, and no care worker should have to live below the poverty line to give this care,” said Rep. Dingell. “This is personal for me – I was so lucky to have my husband John receive care at home. That experience showed me the significant fractures in long-term care, from low wages for workers to thousands on HCBS waitlists to so many people not knowing how to get the care they desperately need. We need a stronger system that supports both care workers and care recipients, and this legislation is a historic step forward to expand HCBS so that seniors and people with disabilities can get the care they need in the setting of their choice while also ensuring care workers are receiving pay and benefits commensurate with their work.”
“HCBS allows seniors and people living with disabilities to receive the high-quality care they need in their communities and in close proximity to their friends and families. However, far too many people are unable to receive HCBS care because of long waitlists and chronic underinvestment in care workers,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “The Better Care Better Jobs Act makes a historic investment that will allow millions of Americans to access home- and community-based care while giving a much-deserved raise to the workers who provide care to our loved ones. I commend Congresswoman Dingell and Senator Casey for their leadership and look forward to getting this vital legislation passed and signed into law this year.”
In Pennsylvania, the pre-pandemic median wage for a direct care worker was just $11.99 per hour, and many have few or no benefits. Sixty-two percent of home care workers are people of color.
The Better Care Better Jobs Act would provide states with enhanced Medicaid funding for home and community-bases services if they carry out certain activities that will support expanding access to these services and strengthen the workforce providing them. It would also provide funding to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to carry out the bill’s programs and conduct oversight.
The original Senate cosponsors of the Better Care Better Jobs Act are U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Read more about the Better Care Better Jobs Act here.