Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
I write to request the assistance of the Congress to meet the needs of home care providers and their employees as they strive to care for seniors and individuals with disabilities in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the number of cases and fatalities continues to rise to record levels, particularly for seniors, the Congress must act now to provide necessary support to businesses and individuals attempting to care for those most vulnerable. At the same time, Congress must take care not to burden employers with unnecessary regulation that will increase the cost of care and force some to go without needed caregiving.
The Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) represents over 3,000 home care providers across the nation that provide personal care services in the homes of millions of older Americans, individuals with disabilities and children with special needs. Our members and their staff enter the community each day to provide care that will enable seniors to remain in their homes and prevent further spread of COVID-19.
At this time the Congress and the Administration must work together to help address the COVID19 pandemic, including support for businesses and individuals. Support for our employee caregivers is critical, to include access to testing and vaccinations as frontline workers and funding for childcare services until such time schools are reopened. As you consider pandemic relief legislation, please support the home care community by giving consideration to the following areas of concern:
Funding for COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations
COVID-19 testing and vaccinations of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers, must be the priority of all states. As seniors are most at risk from COVID-19 it is essential that all workers, particularly those entering a senior’s home, receive priority consideration for vaccination.
Emergency Paid Leave
Home care providers supports emergency paid leave during this pandemic for those who are sick with COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus. The home care community asks that the refundable tax credit continue to cover 100 percent of employers paid leave costs for as long as the emergency paid leave program is in place. We also urge the Congress to ensure the emergency paid leave program is not abused by those who have not contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to the virus.
Minimum Wage Increase
Home care providers know that their greatest asset is their caregivers. As such, home care providers strived to provide competitive compensation for their workers while holding down costs for seniors to ensure they can afford to remain in their home as they age. HCAOA agrees that it is time for a modest increase in the federal minimum wage rate. But we must be careful not to pit the interests of workers against the seniors they serve.
It was 2009 when the federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour. Currently, twenty-two (22) states already have a minimum wage set at $10 per hour or more. It is reasonable to expect an increase in the federal minimum wage since it has not changed in 12 years. HCAOA does not, however, support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, as outlined in the proposal. Instead, HCAOA encourages the Congress to consider a more modest increase taking into consideration the state of the current economy during this pandemic and the challenges many businesses are experiencing at this time. In addition, the Congress should not raise the federal minimum wage unless it makes significant increases in federal support for the Medicaid program as well, to ensure access to services is not diminished.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to continuing to work with you during this critical time to protect the health of our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities. If you would like additional information, please contact Patrick Cooney at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 413-2629.
Executive Director, HCAOA