Home care industry could get boost from congressional funding package

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 9:47 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A shortage in the at-home caregiving industry could soon be addressed by Congress, giving many older Americans or Americans with disabilities the option to stay put. Low wages and limited benefits have kept the industry lacking what it takes to attract workers

Some in the industry were thrown into it for personal reasons.

“My family needed me,” said Annettee Moody from Cottonwood, AZ.

Moody’s small business had just become profitable when it became clear her disabled sister and aging mother needed her at home. They would become her new job.

“Sometimes we have to make those decisions in life,” said Moody.

Moody became a full time at-home caregiver. In addition to caring for her family, she began working for a local agency, taking on additional clients. She quickly noticed caregivers like her in short supply.

“I could make more money working at Taco Bell quite frankly, but my sister needs me so that’s what I do,” said Moody.

To address the issue, President Joe Biden announced earlier this year he would like Congress to inject $400 billion into the Medicaid home care industry to improve conditions and create more jobs.

Vicki Hoak from the Home Care Association of America says this investment can bring change. With Democrats in Congress considering trillions of dollars in spending, Hoak hopes home care funding is included to plug existing gaps.

“They’re literally having to decide who gets care this day and who can wait until the next day, because they don’t have the workers,” said Hoak.

Home care funding is on a long list of items Congress is considering in what could amount to a $3.5 trillion package. For some Democrats and all Republicans, that price tag is too high.

“You reach a point where you just say no,” said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA).

Higgins is firmly opposed to the current reconciliation bill saying the cost is unacceptable. Higgins says he may agree with some provisions inside the package, but overall he argues the historic spending will be a burden for future generations.

“I support fiscally responsible investment of American treasure, and Congress is way out of control with that,” said Higgins.

There is no definitive timeline for when Congress will vote on the reconciliation spending package. The final package and its provisions, including the home care industry funding, have not been finalized.

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