In an effort to help seniors and people with disabilities remain independent for longer, the recently proposed infrastructure plan includes $400 billion spread out over eight years for long-term care services based at home and in community settings.
These efforts are meant to offer alternative options for the elderly and disabled rather than having to rely solely on nursing home care. Even now, long-term care facilities are already operating with less funding and staff than they require.
The proposal features an expansion of home and community-based services for people who require assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing. These services may also consist of home visits from nurses, help with cooking and cleaning, transportation, and other necessities.
Since 70% of seniors will need at least some of these services at some point, a substantial expansion to the system is vital. In fact, the aging population in the U.S. will grow to 74 million by 2030. By then, the youngest of the Baby Boomer generation will be turning 65, which will further necessitate additional long-term care services.
Currently, millions of family members are caring for their loved ones at home at a substantial financial and emotional cost. Unfortunately, many are choosing this option instead of paying the far more expensive cost of long-term care services.
Even Medicare and Medicaid are lacking when it comes to long-term care. Medicare only covers home-based care in specific and limited cases, and it only pays for nursing home care for rehabilitative services and only for a maximum of 100 days. Meanwhile, Medicaid only requires states to cover nursing home care and not home or community-based services. However, some states do offer these services.
As an ever-growing number of seniors need long-term care, increasing the workforce is vital yet challenging due to the low pay and little to no benefits. Although the plan doesn’t specify how the $400 billion will be split, much of it is expected to cover a boost in wages and better benefits for long-term care workers. After all, they deserve to be appreciated for their hard work while also supporting their own families.
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