The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and a group of other leading health care and aging organizations is urging Congress to support legislation to help elderly Americans maintain their health, well-being, and independence.
As with many previous efforts, NAHC has collaborated with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) on aligning priority issues in supporting these shared proposals. Specifically, NAHC/LCAO urged Senators and Representatives to include provisions vital to building a sustaining robust home and community-based services in the reconciliation package under development in Congress.
Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
The COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the desire among patients to receive care in the home and highlighted the significant shortcomings of the Medicaid HCBS program as currently conducted. Chief among theses shortcomings is continued underfunding, a less than robust set of benefits provided, and shortage of caregivers. The letter acknowledges the $190 billion included in the most recent House draft of the legislation while pointing out that it is far lower than the $400 billion President Biden originally called for. LCAO urges Congress to make the highest possible investment in HCBS.
Direct Care Workforce
The letter lays out support for the nearly $1.5 billion in grants for the development of the direct care workforce. These grants would go towards recruitment, education, training, retention, and career advancement. Many direct care workers live near or below the federal poverty limit yet provide services that provide invaluable services enabling others to continue lives of independence. Workforce shortages were present prior to the pandemic and have only been exacerbated since. Government intervention will be necessary to support and bolster this crucial segment of the workforce.
Older Americans Act
The current House of Representatives language calls for $1.3 billion in funding to be directed towards Older Americans Act programs such as home care, transportation, meal delivery, and caregiver support.
Family Caregiver Tax Credit
The House draft includes a scaled down version of the NAHC supported Credit for Caring Act. As drafted, a family caregiver would be eligible for tax credit capped at $2,000 for expenses related to their caregiving, subject to an income limit of $75,000.
NAHC will continue to advocate on these issues and push for more robust funding. Negotiations on Capitol Hill are ongoing, but party leaders hope to have an agreement on a topline number for the final package as well as broad outline for policies included by the end of October, with a vote on the final package by the end of November or December at the latest.