Aging Services Leader to Representatives: As House Moves to Finalize Reconciliation Package, Older Americans & Their Families Need Help Now 90% of Americans Want Investments in Care

PRESS RELEASE | September 15, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“This is the most important moment in decades for older adults who need help to eat and bathe and take their medicine, or who too often die waiting on lists for affordable housing that last for years.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders, lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

September 15, 2021, Washington, DC— As the House moves forward to assemble the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, a top aging services organization warned lawmakers not to cut back on the committees’ funding commitments, because the lives and health of millions of older Americans and people with disabilities are at stake.

 

“These are not just numbers. They’re the real lives of older people and the families struggling to get them the care and services they need,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “Every Member of Congress needs to know that this is the most important moment in decades for older adults who need help to eat and bathe and take their medicine, or who too often die waiting on lists for affordable housing that last for years.”

 

91% of people believe that older Americans should have the support and resources they need to lead a fulfilling life,” Sloan added. “Will Congress listen?”

  • Sloan reinforced LeadingAge’s support for a strong investment of at least $190 billion for Home and Community-Based Services to allow more older adults to get the help they need to grow older wherever they call home (including increasing pay for the staff who provide the help), and emphasized the need to retain the legislation’s $1.5 billion set aside to recruit and train direct care workers.
  • She also applauded the work of the House Committees on Financial Services and on Ways and Means to expand the supply of affordable housing for older adults as they complete their reconciliation measures, and allocate funds to be used for long-term care workforce recruitment, retention, and training.

The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher to Invest in Care Services as Americans Age

  • Half of all Americans will need long-term services and supports after turning 65--and by 2040, a quarter of the U.S. population will be 65 or older.
  • Today, more than 1.93 million very low income older adult renters pay more than half of their incomes toward rent, too often forcing them to choose between paying for rent, food, and medicine. They’re often on wait lists for years to find an affordable place to live.
  • Many home care providers have been forced to turn people in need away in part because reimbursement rates make it impossible to offer competitive wages.

The Vast Majority of Americans Support Investments in Older Americans:

According to a recent LeadingAge survey:

  • 91% of Americans believe Older Americans should have the support and resources they need to lead a fulfilling life.
  • 89% of Americans support public investment in affordable home care services to help older adults.
  • 86% of Americans believe the government must make a bigger investment in services and care for seniors.
  • 83% of Americans believe elected officials have failed older adults and the people who care for them by ignoring and underfunding America's aging services for decades

 

LeadingAge’s Specific Requests

LeadingAge called on lawmakers to ensure the upcoming reconciliation package specifically provides for investments to address the nation’s most pressing aging services needs:

  • At least $190 billion for Home and Community-Based Services to allow more older adults to get the help they need in their homes or in their communities so they can grow older wherever they call home—including increasing pay for the staff who provide the help.
  • $2.4 billion to address the nation’s shortage of affordable housing for older adults with very low incomes through HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.
  • $55 billion to increase Medicaid reimbursement for nursing homes so they can pay wages that enable them to recruit and retain staff, especially frontline workers.
  • $1.5 billion investment in the aging services workforce to implement strategies to strengthen recruitment, career and training opportunities that our nation’s direct care workers need to care for millions of older Americans and people with disabilities.
About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership, which now includes the providers of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, encompasses the continuum of services for people as they age, including those with disabilities. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.