This is a big week in Washington as the fate of both infrastructure plans – bridges and roads, and the social/human infrastructure plans – are up for votes. HCAOA’s advocacy efforts have focused on the latter plan proposed by the Biden Administration because it includes, among many other safety net issues, better access to home care; improved wages for workers and child care benefits, which are frequently cited as a cause for home care’s workforce shortage. Should the measure pass in the House it will likely be trimmed down in the Senate as Democrats do not have the votes to pass the measure in the Senate.
Specifically, HCAOA has gone on record supporting Medicaid eligibility for HCBS and making home care an entitlement similar to nursing home care, increasing Medicaid reimbursement to improve direct care worker wages, and earmarking money for workforce development including direct care worker training. The plan also creates vision, dental and hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and also proposes to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60.
Another major legislative priority for HCAOA is the Credit for Caring Act, which has gained momentum and was included in the House Ways and Means markup, adding further support for this bill. Family caregivers would be eligible for a $2,000 tax credit (50 percent on up to $4,000 of expenses) which includes respite care and other out-of-pocket costs associated with keeping a family member at home. The cost to the Treasury for this tax credit is estimated to be $28 billion dollars over 10 years.
Another advocacy effort focuses on extending the employer tax credit for COVID-related leave, which expires tomorrow. This tax credit has been invaluable to home care providers because it offsets the cost of paid sick and family leave including time off to get the vaccination.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had originally promised her members that she would bring up both infrastructure plans for a vote on Monday, but has now delayed the votes to tomorrow (Thursday). This delay signals the challenge Pelosi faces in assuring all democrats vote for the social infrastructure plan.
HCAOA members are urged to continue to advocate for the Credit for Caring Act and extending the Employer Tax Credit by sending messages already composed for you on HCAOA’s Legislative Network.