Direct CARE Opportunity Act
The Direct CARE Opportunity Act will provide grants to around a dozen organizations or states to find a solution to the growing need for caregivers.
Home health aides and caregiving may be the future of work. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the country that receives little compensation for services.
However, Congress has a plan in place to change that. A bill, formally known as the Direct CARE Opportunity Act, beginning in early September.
In response to recent headlines about the caregiving community, the bill opens the doors for career growth.
Direct CARE Opportunity Act
Home health aides and Caregiving are undoubtedly among the most underpaid jobs in healthcare. Lacking benefits for employees and the pay is very little.
Some caregivers don’t receive any compensation for their efforts.
Home healthcare provides the essential treatment many require when injury, illness or other age-related health problems arise. Services are often more cost-effective than when a patient is admitted to the hospital or assisted living facility.
One nonprofit group that oversees health services confirms these claims. Home health care is a key factor in achieving the best possible health results for many patients.
The Direct CARE Opportunity Act provides grants to several states to create innovating solutions to this lingering issue. The biggest problem is the growing rate of senior Americans needing caregivers.
Home Health Aides are in High Demand
Despite the growing demand as the baby boomer generation ages, not many people are willing to take this job. It pays very little and employees receive almost no protection or benefits.
It’s physically and emotionally exhausting; so, drawing more people to the profession is essential for so many seniors needing help with daily tasks. Currently, the turnover rate for home health aides is at its’ highest due to lack of benefits and pay.
Responsibilities may be as simple as assisting someone with brushing their teeth. Other patients may need more extensive care such as calming a patient who suffers from dementia.
Today, 6.3 million adults reside in the U.S. over the age of 85 – by 2050 that number may reach 19 million. The risk for illness increases with age; likewise, the need for direct care (caregiving) also increases.
The expansion of Medicaid coverage and the aging baby boomer population have driven up the need for home health workers. Although, employees are one of the lowest paid in the nation.
In 2018, the annual salary was a mere $24,200. The federal poverty level for a small family of two is $16,460.
So, the people caring for the sick and elderly are getting roughly $11.50 an hour for services.
Home Caregiving is the Future of Work
By 2026, the U.S. economy predicts to create 1.2 million new home caregiving careers due to the increase of those needing care. Career paths may include on-the-job training, professional development, apprenticeships or mentoring programs.
The future of work is in-home healthcare. To make the profession more attractive, wages must increase in addition to benefits such as paid sick days. US labor laws must close the gaps that leave domestic health aides unprotected.
Each month the US economy adds thousands of jobs for Americans. Most of them are new jobs in healthcare; of those jobs – many are in home health jobs.
In 2018, personal care aides and home health workers claimed 153,050 new job positions. This exceeds the number of jobs for registered nurses (another one of the fastest-growing professions) by three times.
The bottom line is 80% of seniors over 50 prefer to live at home with care over living in a facility.
Whether the reasoning is due to family guilt from “putting a loved one in a home” or the senior’s wish to have personal independence – the demand for home healthcare is not going to slow down anytime soon.
Medicare Advantage and Home Health Care Coverage
MA allows benefits for non-skilled care for the first time because of the Direct CARE Opportunity Act. This will provide relief to many who need help but can’t afford assistance from a professional.
CMS states that Medicare will provide benefits for healthcare that lowers the impact of health issues and reduces the risk of unnecessary emergency room visits.
Home health care companies can broaden their plan of care recommendations to patients with this change. While some agencies may need to create new strategies, the addition of non-skilled in-home supports and services is a great advantage for beneficiaries.
Again, the expansion adds to the patient’s quality of life. This benefit both the patient and the ones who are taking care of them.
Imagine giving up your career and lifestyle to accommodate needing to care for your aging parent or loved one. For many, this is the daily reality.
However, with CMS’ final 2020 rule – beneficiaries may receive coverage for the care they need for aging in place in their home and keeping them out of the hospital.
One expert supports how important this shift is to patients. The coverage of non-traditional services impacts the overall healthcare status.
As a result, the increase in Advantage plans and enrollees is constant. CMS is preparing to provide MA plans more flexibility than ever before when it comes to non-medical in-home health benefits.
While this is just the start, it’s a significant step in the right direction for many seniors nationwide.
The Direct CARE Opportunity Act Solves A Long Over-Due Problem
The bill is just the first solution to a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago. While more problems are still to come, the state of care for the aging population and the future of work for Americans are at risk.
Policymakers have yet to address the issues surrounding racism and sexism in the system. The bill does give government agencies and labor groups more flexibility to discover a working solution.
However, creating jobs that people want with matching benefits may be a way to make a career out of caregiving.
Congress understands that caretakers need better pay and benefits; after all, their job is one of the most important.