Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Casey Unveils New Legislation To Expand Access to Home Care

Andrew Harnik

U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced legislation Thursday that would help more seniors and people with disabilities access at-home care through Medicaid. The proposal, known as the Better Care Better Jobs Act, would make use of $400 billion in new spending for home and community-based services proposed under President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

“This provision of the American Jobs Plan is so popular that 75 percent of Americans support [it],” Casey said. “A lot of Americans want … to have their care in the home or in the community.”

More than 3.5 million older adults and people with disabilities use Medicaid home and community-based care services, including 146,000 people in Pennsylvania. However, nationwide, many people are on a waitlist for these services.

“When I look at the 820,000 Americans that are still on the waiting list, I see that as untapped resources,” said Theo Braddy, a disabilities consultant and a person with disabilities. “Hear me on this: Without my attendants, I easily could have chosen to live a life of isolation and be institutionalized.”

The Better Jobs Better Care Act would incentivize states with an additional 10 percent in federal matching funds for Medicaid’s home and community-based services. In exchange, states would be required to expand access by relaxing income limits, facilitating enrollment, and reaching more working people with disabilities.

The new policy would also incentivize investment in care workers, many of whom are women and people of color. In Pennsylvania, the median wage for direct care is around $12 per hour.

“These Americans who are providing this care need better pay and benefits,” Casey said. “And they should have the option, if their state chooses to take advantage of this part of the bill, to join a union.”

Casey says the legislation will be part of the budget reconciliation bill that will come before the Senate soon.

Susan Scott Peterson is an audio producer and writer whose journalism, radio and literary work have appeared with Vox Media, New Hampshire Public Radio, Allegheny Front, The Texas Observer and The Rumpus.