The just-passed House COVID relief bill contains a crucial provision for America’s seniors which the Senate’s bill should include — a 7.5% increase in federal Medicaid matching funds for home and community-based services (HCBS). That means some $10 billion in additional federal money for state Medicaid programs to help keep seniors in their homes and communities, instead of in nursing homes. The provision is based on a bill originally introduced by House Energy and Commerce committee member Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and would not have been possible without the support of the committee chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
“For years, we have said that seniors are better off in home and community-based care than in nursing homes. They are more likely to thrive when they remain in familiar surroundings, with friends and family nearby. During this time of COVID, there is little doubt that a senior receiving HCBS care is at lower risk of exposure than in a nursing home. This infusion of new HCBS funding is great news for older Medicaid beneficiaries across America.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
The House members who crafted and supported this legislation realize that successful home and community-based care requires safe and fairly compensated caregivers. This new funding will allow states to bolster their home and community-based services in a number of ways, including:
- Increasing caregivers’ wages;
- Providing COVID-19 resources, training, and protective equipment;
- Providing HCBS to people on waiting lists;
- Providing additional HCBS to reduce nursing home placements;
- Supporting family caregivers.
This legislation could help thousands of seniors to access or retain home and community-based care. We applaud Rep. Dingell and Chairman Pallone for their leadership on this issue, and we urge the U.S. Senate to pass the House COVID relief legislation with the new HCBS funding intact — for the sake of seniors, their families and caregivers throughout the USA.
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