“Needed now more than ever” … “A historic investment” … “Workers like me will be lifted out of poverty” … “The supports to live meaningful and dignified lives” … “Would truly transform our service delivery system”
Washington, D.C – Today, people and organizations are applauding the introduction of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, legislation to expand access to home and community-based services for older adults and people with disabilities. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI-6) introduced the bill yesterday in their longstanding efforts to expand access to home care and lift up the care workers who do this life-sustaining work. The bill is supported by over 800 organizations and experts representing care workers, people with disabilities, older adults, and more.
Lynn Weidner, home care worker and PA resident: “As a home care worker, I have been surviving on poverty wages for decades, silently keeping my head down and caring for the needs of my consumers. My work allows seniors and disabled people to live a free substantial life in their own homes, instead of in institutional settings.
Although I provide essential services that lower healthcare spending and improve health outcomes for millions of Americans, as a home care worker, I am underappreciated and underpaid. For the last several years Senator Casey has been a strong advocate for home care workers. He has advocated for living wages and increased funding for home and community-based services that would change the lives of the people providing and receiving care. With the passage of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, workers like me will be lifted out of poverty and our seniors and disabled people who require care will more easily be able to find the help they need.
Home care workers and our consumers deeply appreciate Senator Casey for not ignoring the home care system that so desperately needs improvement. The time to pass a bill that protects the lives of consumers and caregivers and allows us all to thrive is now. Care is essential, and it cannot wait.”
Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of Caring Across Generations: “The Better Care Better Jobs Act represents a historic investment in a long undervalued and underfunded care industry and will address waitlists and other barriers that disabled people, aging adults and family caregivers face when trying to access the services they need in their homes and communities. We cannot expand access to services without addressing the fact that the direct care workforce is in severe crisis with workers who aren’t paid fairly even though they do the vital work of caring for our loved ones.
“In every state and every district across the U.S. there is overwhelming support for investing in home- and community-based services (HCBS). In fact, this issue is so widespread that 89% of voters want the federal government to increase funding for HCBS to allow aging adults and disabled people to live with independence and dignity.
“Too often policies and programs are centered on our needs as workers, rather than our needs as families and caregivers. This creates challenges that impact our quality of life – such as balancing work and childcare, needing time to care for a loved one, accessing support for long-term needs, and affording ways to age with dignity – and that families are left to navigate alone. People shouldn’t have to choose between doing well and living well. If Congress doesn’t take this issue seriously, millions of us will continue to struggle to do what matters most: care for the people we love.”
Barbara Merrill, Chief Executive Officer, ANCOR: “Never before have we needed the leadership of Senator Casey and Representative Dingell as badly as we do now,” said Barbara Merrill, ANCOR’s chief executive officer. “If signed into law, Better Care Better Jobs would truly transform our service delivery system, to the benefit of the people with I/DD supported by our community of providers, as well as their family members and the workforce that is often the direct link between people and community. We applaud these lawmakers for their advocacy on behalf of home- and community-based services.”
Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director, Justice in Aging: “The Better Care Better Jobs Act is needed now more than ever. The inequities in our long-term care system that force older adults with limited resources into institutions, burden families, and fail to support the direct care workforce can only be mended by bold investments in Medicaid home-based care. Justice in Aging is grateful to Senator Casey and Representative Dingell for their leadership and remains committed to working with Congress to enact transformative investments in the care infrastructure so older adults can get the help they need to age in dignity.”
Little Lobbyists: “Like most kids, our children love to dream about what they will do and where they will live when they grow up. But for our kids – who use wheelchairs and walkers to get around, tracheostomies to breathe, feeding tubes to eat, and assistive devices to communicate – being able to survive today and thrive in the future relies on their ability to access Medicaid home and community-based services and support (HCBS).
When our kids share their dreams about their future as grown-ups in our community, we often find ourselves unable to dream with them. We know our country’s failure to support people with disabilities is a serious threat to our children’s ability to remain in their community. Waiting lists for adult HCBS are decades-long and growing longer. Without meaningful legislation and significant investment, our children cannot escape the nightmare of institutionalization.
The reintroduction of the Better Care Better Jobs Act by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell provides our families with a light in the darkness."
Peter Berns, Chief Executive Office, The Arc: “People with disabilities deserve the supports to live meaningful and dignified lives in their communities. Their care workers deserve the pay and hours to avoid burnout and turnover. And their families deserve the aid of care workers so they do not have to quit or cut their hours to fill in the gaps. It’s 2023, and we should not have to still be fighting for these basic needs so that everyone has the ability to build the life they want. The Arc is, as always, ready to rally support for these much-needed changes and looks forward to working to make sure Congress knows the difference that they would make in the lives of countless people with disabilities.”