On Tuesday afternoon I was speaking to a room full of people who support aging adults and their caregivers. When I called on elected officials to, “to be our representative voice for fair wages, for paid leave policies, for social supports for seniors and veterans and caregivers,” the 200 plus people in the room broke out into applause. At about the exact same time, President Biden announced the most comprehensive set of executive actions any President has ever taken in support of family caregivers.
Citing these facts:
- For the elderly or people with disabilities long-term care costs are up 40% in the past decade
- Many Americans – particularly women – stay out of the workforce to care for their families
- It is difficult for businesses to attract and retain a skilled workforce and for the economy to grow.
- More than three-quarters of home and community-based care service providers are not accepting new clients, leaving hundreds of thousands of older Americans and Americans with disabilities on waiting lists for home and community-based services or struggling to afford the care they need.
The President laid out a plan designed to make long-term care, and childcare, more accessible and affordable for families, including military families.
With regards to eldercare, he called on the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to:
- consider testing a new dementia care model that will include support for respite care (short-term help to give a primary family caregiver a break)
- make it easier for family caregivers to access Medicare beneficiary information
- provide more support to family caregivers during the hospital discharge planning process.
and on the Department of Veterans Affairs to:
- consider expanding access to the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers and provide more mental health support for caregivers enrolled in that program.
Recognizing that supporting long term care workers is tantamount to supporting families, the President is also taking steps to enhance job quality for long-term care workers. The Executive Order directs HHS to, “consider issuing several regulations and guidance documents to improve the quality of home care jobs, including by leveraging Medicaid funding to ensure there are enough home care workers to provide care to seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid, as well as build on the minimum staffing standards for nursing homes and condition a portion of Medicare payments on how well a nursing home retains workers.”
Thank you President Biden. This is the leadership we need. These actions will support families and care workers who are trying to provide quality of life for our rapidly aging society and too often, have had to go it alone.