10.28.21

Senator Murray on Home- and Community-Based Services in Build Back Better Framework: A “Historic Shift” in How We Prioritize Care for People with Disabilities and Older Americans

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on how the Democrats’ Build Back Better framework will expand home- and community-based services (HCBS) to ensure older adults and people with disabilities get the care they need, and ensure caregivers get the pay and benefits they deserve.

 

“For far too long, people with disabilities and older Americans have struggled to access the care and support they need to live at home—as a result, they’ve been forced out of their communities and relegated to institutions. And care workers—who so many families rely on—struggle to make ends meet without the pay and benefits they deserve. This just isn’t working for anyone.

 

“Build Back Better marks a historic shift in how our country cares for people with disabilities and older Americans. This funding will expand access to home- and community-based services—so that getting this crucial care won’t just be for the lucky few who can get off a wait list. It will create jobs for care workers and improve their wages. And, it will make sure that all of us live in a country that understands home care isn’t an luxury or an afterthought—it’s a necessity many Americans need now, and many more will need in our lives.

 

“Home care makes all the difference for countless families across the country, and thanks to the relentless, passionate work of so many advocates and activists—it will finally be valued as such.”

 

Over four million older adults and people with disabilities currently receive Medicaid home- and community-based services. But more than 800,000 Americans languish on wait lists, sometimes for years—making it harder for people with disabilities and older adults to live independently in their communities. The workers who provide this critical care—who are disproportionately women of color—also continue to make poverty level wages and have little to no benefits.

 

The $150 billion investments included in the framework would:

  • expand access to home and community based services for older American and people with disabilities, ensuring they have the support they need to do everyday tasks and stay healthy in their own homes,
  • improve wages and benefits for care workers, by ensuring they have the ability to collectively bargain, which will improve wages, benefits and quality of life for care workers,
  • create jobs and strengthen the caregiving workforce, including by investing in recruitment, education and training, retention, and career advancement for the direct care workforce and  family caregivers.

 

Senator Murray has long fought for expanded access to HCBS, and was critical in securing an estimated $12.7 billion in funding for HCBS in the American Rescue Plan, to ensure people with disabilities get the care they need during the pandemic. Earlier this year, she joined Senators Casey, Wyden, and Schumer in introducing the Better Care Better Jobs Act—which the Build Back Better provisions are modeled after. Since then she has fought hard to include home care in the Build Back Better package, highlight how it means better care for people with disabilities, better pay and benefits for care workers, and a better quality of life for all families.

 

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