One of the programs President Biden supported during his campaign for
President was expanding home and community-based care for the elderly and disabled and improving conditions for the poorly paid workers who give that care.
Now there is a lobbying effort to make sure enough money is provided for those programs because without sufficient funding states could choose not to take the money and leave their Medicaid programs running as is.
The proposed funding increase into Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Services program has two goals: reducing waiting lists for support for older and disabled Americans who want to stay in their homes rather than go into assisted living facilities or other institutions, and raising pay for home health care’s largely female, minority workforce.
Medicaid is the largest payer of long-term support services such as home care for the elderly, but states are not required to participate in the home and community-based program.
Home care, though, is much cheaper, overall. The yearly average cost, per person, of a nursing home to Medicaid is $90,000 compared with $26,000 for home care workers, according to one expert.
Although home health workers are one of the fastest-growing segments of the labor market, they typically earn about $17,000 per year, often without benefits.