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Disabled Community Urges Congress To Boost Home-Care Infrastructure

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 Advocates for people with disabilities are urging Congress to boost Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services in the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would allocate $400 billion to increase access to care. 

Christiano Sosa with Arc of Colorado said the Better Care Better Jobs Act would dramatically improve quality of life for people with disabilities, as well as raise wages for caregivers and provide better benefits, making caregiving more of a viable career path.  

"One of the things that we hear loud and clear from individuals with disabilities and families is that it’s almost a full-time job just training the new person," he said. 

Caregiver reimbursements have not kept up with inflation or even local minimum wages, and Sosa sees the proposed 400-billion dollar investment in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services as an important step to reverse decades of underfunding.

Lack of funding has led to long waiting lists for rationed in-home care services, which leaves many no choice but to turn to nursing homes. Henry Claypool with Brandeis University said blocking the proposal would be penny wise but pound foolish. States are required to accept nursing-home residents regardless of their ability to pay, which costs taxpayers exponentially more than community-based care. Claypool believes the proposal is ultimately about giving people more options.

"If you’re in an institution like a nursing home, you’re not able to get up and go when you want, you’re totally dependent on when the staff can get to you," he said. "Most Americans really want to stay in their homes, and this is an important investment to make that happen. "

Sosa notes that if Congress does not invest in community-care options, the burden will continue to fall on unpaid family caregivers, which historically have been women and people of color.