President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ Agenda - In Buffalo, New York Senator Gillibrand ‘Calls For Historic Investment In Long-Term Care And Caregiver Economy’
(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) - As Congress crafts the historic Build Back Better agenda that President Joe Biden supports, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood at the 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) building in Buffalo to call for historic investments in long-term care and the Caregiver economy, building on the $12.7 billion short-term Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) funding that passed as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Gillibrand championed and helped secure HCBS provisions in the American Rescue Plan and is now pushing to pass the Better Care Better Job Act to enhance Medicaid funding for HCBS and strengthen the HCBS workforce.
“Caregivers and HCBS Personnel are Essential Workers and we much treat them as such - this means paying Workers a living wage and benefits commensurate with their work and sacrifice. Far too many of these Essential Workers, a majority of whom are Women and People of Color, are living in poverty,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I’m pushing for (a $400 billion) investment in Medicaid HCBS and much-needed financial relief for Caregivers and their families through the Better Care Better Job Act. This Bill would also enable seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and lead independent lives while receiving dignified care. Investing in care infrastructure means investing in the future of the Middle Class and caring for the people who care for our communities.”
Also speaking at the event that was held last week was Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Peter DeJesus: "The Western New York Area Labor Federation and its affiliated Unions thank Senator Gillibrand for her support of the Better Care Better Jobs Act. This proposal will not only expand access to good-quality care, but will lead to better pay and benefits for Workers, enhancing the quality of life for many families. It will help to create real Middle Class jobs in Western New York.”
Another speaker - Mark Spadafore, who serves as 1199 SEIU Political Director, Upstate Division, said: “Homecare Workers are the forgotten heroes of the pandemic. They often went into homes to provide care and didn’t know what situation they were walking into. They went to work without any PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment) or other protection from the pandemic. These Workers deserve a living wage and a career ladder to make their jobs better. That is why we thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her support for the Better Jobs, Better Care Act. We need to ensure the funding for these Workers to be able to serve their consumers with the dignity that they deserve.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic highlighted the urgent need to ensure all Americans have the option to receive quality, long-term care in the setting that best meets their needs and preferences, the speakers said.
More than 3.5 million older adults and people with disabilities receive home or community-based care through Medicaid, but demand has greatly outpaced supply, with more than 820,000 Americans still on the waitlist for care.
The pandemic has also made it difficult for older adults and people with disabilities to receive home health services and has placed a heavy burden on Medicaid Home Health Agencies (HHAs) and HCBS providers that struggled to adapt to tele-health services and acquire adequate PPE for in-person visits.
HCBS also enable seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes, stay active in their communities, and lead independent lives - yet, currently, coverage, eligibility and benefit standards vary by state, which leads to large gaps in coverage and caps on the number of individuals who can receive these critical services, the speakers said.
The Better Care Better Jobs Act would facilitate statewide planning to develop HCBS infrastructure improvement plans and enhance Medicaid funding for HCBS by providing states a permanent increase in a Federal Medicaid match - if they expand access to HCBS and strengthen the HCBS workforce.
Additionally, this legislation would incentivize workforce growth.
Providing better pay and benefits, education and training, and stronger career advancement opportunities to promote retention are key investments needed to meet the moment for Caregivers and HCBS alike.
Senator Gillibrand championed and helped secure HCBS provisions in the American Rescue Plan (ARP), including: Nearly $12.7 billion towards home and community-based services; $145 million in funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP); $500 million towards strike teams to support staffing shortages in nursing homes; and $200 million towards technical assistance in nursing homes on infection control.
This legislation is endorsed by SEIU International, the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, the National Center for Independent Living, The Arc, the National Council on Aging, Justice in Aging, and Little Lobbyists.
For more information on the Better Care Better Jobs Act, click here.