Casey Introduces Bill to Increase Funding for Direct Care Workforce

McKnight’s Home Care / By C. MAX BACHMANN
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), chair of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced a bill Wednesday that would increase funding and training for direct care workers and caregivers, bolstering the HCBS Access Act. 
The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would award grants to states and eligible groups to increase the direct care workforce and also train paid and unpaid family caregivers. The legislation is part of Casey’s HCBS Access Act, which he introduced in March. Direct care workers include home health and personal care aides and certified nursing assistants who provide long-term care services, the bill notes. 
“The caregiving crisis in this country corners many Americans into upending their careers and living on poverty wages or performing unpaid caregiving for family members because they have no other options,” Casey said in a statement Wednesday. “This is not the way that a great nation treats its workers and families. This legislation would ensure that paid caregivers can receive family-sustaining wages and continue to provide essential care to older adults and people with disabilities.”
Seven other senators joined Casey in introducing the bill, including fellow Senate Special Committee on Aging Member Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
In a press release, the committee cited shortages and low wages in the direct care workforce — a 2022 study from PHI said the median wage of direct care workers was just over $14 — as justification for the bill. 
The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act and HCBS Access Act were preceded by the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which Casey reintroduced in January.