I do not dwell on political topics here unless there is a topic that directly impacts the aging or dying in society. There has been plenty of media attention to the proposed infrastructure plan of President Joe Biden, and I was pleased to see a section focusing on the need for better pay and access for people who choose to perform at-home care for our aging and/or disabled community.
This hits close to home for me, and I’m thrilled that this administration is acknowledging the wage gap for those who are called to work caring for our most vulnerable population. Overwhelmingly women are called to provide in-home assistance and companionship care, and the majority of those women are women of color. This plan addresses the need for better wages and benefits for these women affording them a good living while also increasing the care and improving the quality of life for our aged and disabled population. I’ve copied the part of the proposal from the White House below. Read through and consider this and how it could improve your life or that of someone you love.
“SOLIDIFY THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF OUR CARE ECONOMY BY CREATING JOBS AND RAISING WAGES AND BENEFITS FOR ESSENTIAL HOME CARE WORKERS
Even before COVID-19, our country was in the midst of a caregiving crisis. In addition to caring for children, families feel the financial burden of caring for aging relatives and family members with disabilities, and there is a financial strain for people with disabilities living independently to ensure that they are getting care in their homes. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people who need better care are unable to access it, even though they qualify under Medicaid. In fact, it can take years for these individuals to get the services they badly need. Aging relatives and people with disabilities deserve better. They deserve high-quality services and support that meet their unique needs and personal choices.
Caregivers – who are disproportionally women of color – have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. Wages for essential home care workers are approximately $12 per hour, putting them among the lowest paid workers in our economy. In fact, one in six workers in this sector live in poverty. President Biden is calling on Congress to make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. Specifically, he is calling on Congress to put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities. These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need, while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain. Research shows that increasing the pay of direct care workers greatly enhances workers’ financial security, improves productivity, and increases the quality of care offered. Another study showed that increased pay for care workers prevented deaths, reduced the number of health violations, and lowered the cost of preventative care.
President Biden’s plan will:
- Expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid. President Biden believes more people should have the opportunity to receive care at home, in a supportive community, or from a loved one. President Biden’s plan will expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) and extend the longstanding Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care.
- Put in place an infrastructure to create good middle-class jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union. The HCBS expansion under Medicaid can support well-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain, building state infrastructure to improve the quality of services and to support workers. This will improve wages and quality of life for essential home health workers and yield significant economic benefits for low-income communities and communities of color.”
PART 2: REDUX
I posted a poll last week about shows to watch as part of a TV club. I’d like to examine the way death, dying and grief are portrayed in television series and discuss them with you. There is still time to vote on which show you’d like to watch and which way you’d like to discuss them. I’ll make an announcement about the launch of the Death in TV club by the end of the week.