Casey Chairs Senate Hearing on Health Care Workforce Development

WILKES-BARRE, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today chaired a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging field hearing entitled “Taking Care of Mom and Dad: Why We Need a Quality Workforce to Serve Our Older Americans.”  The hearing focused on legislative action in the Senate and taking measures to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to a quality workforce to care for an aging population with a focus on medical education and the frontline health care workforce.  At the hearing, Senator Casey also discussed legislation he plans to introduce that will provide assistance to direct care workers.  

“I called this hearing today to address a serious problem in our Commonwealth and across the nation: providing access to a quality workforce for an aging population,” said Senator Casey.  “The baby boom generation will start turning 65 next year and will begin to qualify for Medicare. By 2030, all 78 million will have reached that age.  As this population ages, they will place new demands on our health care system.  We have a responsibility to do this and to get it right, but we also have an opportunity to make Pennsylvania a leader in health care workforce development.”

At the hearing, Senator Casey discussed the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act, which Senator Casey plans to introduce.  This legislation aims to ensure that home care workers receive the federal minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act, improve federal and state data collection and oversight with respect to the direct care workforce and establish a grant program to help states improve direct care worker recruitment, retention and training.   

Senator Casey was joined at the hearing by Dr. Janet Heinrich, Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Health Professionals of the Health Resources and Services Administration, Dr. Robert D’Alessandri, Executive Officer and the Chief Academic Officer for The Commonwealth Medical College, Dr. Vera Salter, Professional Development Director for the Direct Care Alliance, Melissa Lear, RN, President of Beck N Call Home Health and President Allen Lear Home Health and Connie Kreider, CNA, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association.