Congress is seeking to bolster the home care industry with new legislation. Even though it’s the number one job creator in the country, and that trend is expected to continue for another five or 10 years, at least, stagnantly low wages make it exceedingly difficult for agencies and other businesses to retain valuable caregivers.
The work of an in-home care aide is often described as exceedingly taxing, difficult, and burnout is a major concern for those organizations looking after elderly and disabled individuals in their home.
By 2050, it’s expected that over 19 million people will be over the age of 85. Currently, that number is 6.3 million adults. With this increase in the aging population, it is tantamount to ensure that these growing numbers of elderly individuals have access to quality care at home, if and when the time comes.
This new legislation is designed to help fund various projects that will assist people who want to make a career out of in-home care. As noted in the Vox blog, Home care workers have a lousy job. A new bill in Congress aims to change that., written by Alexia Fernandez Campbell:
“The bill, called the Direct CARE Opportunity Act, would provide grants to about a dozen organizations or states to come up with solutions to a vexing problem: More and more elderly Americans need caregivers, but the job offers such low pay and so little protection that few people are willing to do it for long. It’s also emotionally and physically exhausting.
“It’s a crisis now and will explode in the decades to come,” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy for PHI, a national nonprofit that advocates for direct care workers and their clients.”
Some of these projects may include apprenticeships, mentoring programs, and even on-the-job training opportunities. With razor thin profit margins, agencies have been limited in what they can offer, at least those organizations relying exclusively or predominantly on Medicaid for reimbursement.
It is certainly an interesting conundrum that Congress seeks to make these remedies while the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not only cut reimbursement rates for in-home care by 14 percent as a way to help pay for the Affordable Care Act of 2010, but has also proposed even further cuts in the next year or so.
More funding will certainly make a difference in helping people realize home care can be a viable and rewarding career path and to provide training and mentoring, but reimbursement for services rendered also needs to be addressed, protected, and potentially increased if legislators take this potential crisis seriously.
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