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Why Biden's 'Caregiving Economy' Proposal Would Save Lives

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In the American Jobs Plan, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has allocated an additional $400 billion in investments in what he calls the “Caregiving Economy,” which includes expanding access to long-term services and supports in individuals’ homes and the community for people with disabilities. In addition, this investment will support well-paying union caregiving jobs with benefits, as the majority of these roles are currently uncompensated or low-wage jobs.

What are long-term services and supports?

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), “Long-term services and supports (LTSS) consist of a broad range of day-to-day help needed by people with long-term conditions, disabilities or frailty.” The organization further elucidated what this means in practical terms. “This can include personal care (bathing, dressing, toileting); complex care (medications, wound care); help with housekeeping, transportation, paying bills and meals; and other ongoing social services.”

Who accesses long-term services and supports?

In 2018, over 14 million adults received long-term services and supports, more than 40 percent of whom were under the age of 65 (ibid.).

Why are long-term services and supports important?

90 percent of those who receive these services do so in the community, while only 10 percent access them in nursing homes (ibid.). These supports are vital for keeping people with disabilities in their homes, instead of segregated in congregate settings. Community integration facilitates the participation of this population in the day-to-day affairs of American civic and social life.

What does a Biden administration investment mean?

In 2017, $235 billion was spent on long-term services and supports, the majority of which was funded by Medicaid (ibid.). An additional $400 billion investment would do much to assist disabled people with independent living.

Why is living in the community better than residing in nursing homes?

As of mid-May of 2021, over 183,000 individuals with disabilities and staff in nursing homes have died due to the coronavirus pandemic. Close quarters, lack of oversight and substandard facilities have meant that 39 percent of total COVID-19 fatalities have been attributed to nursing homes.

How may I advocate for the passage of this funding?

Calling, writing and emailing your Congresspeople will do much to support the Caregiving Economy and pass the American Jobs Plan.

Getty image by Gary Radler.

Originally published: June 7, 2021
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