LeadingAge Calls on Administration and Congress to Prioritize Older Americans in Infrastructure and Economic Recovery Legislation

PRESS RELEASE | April 28, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“This critical conversation has finally begun. Now it’s time for Congress and the Administration to act.”

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

April 28, 2021, Washington, DC—As the president prepares to lay out the second part of his economic proposals in a joint address to Congress tonight, Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services and one of the nation’s top voices for older Americans, reviewed a summary of the Administration's new plan and insisted that any relief must prioritize care for America’s rapidly growing older population.

“The hard truth is that America doesn't have the aging services infrastructure we need to support older Americans right now, and it is imperative that we have a system that will support us all as we age. America’s rapidly aging population could overwhelm our capacity to provide quality care, threatening to leave millions of older Americans out in the cold.

This critical conversation--about what it means to grow older in America--has finally begun. Now it’s time for Congress and the Administration to act to ensure we build a strong workforce to support our aging population and ensure all older Americans can get the supports and quality care each of us needs.

President Biden’s March proposal offered a down payment on rebuilding our fragile aging services infrastructure, with critically needed support for home care and community services, affordable housing and telehealth services for older Americans.

The American Families Plan includes a number of important elements that support the workers who provide that care that is crucial for Americans as they age:

  • Education benefits will help build a larger, higher-quality care workforce:
    • Providing two years of free community college will lower a barrier to training needed to become professional caregivers and other aging services workers.
    • Expanding access to college, including at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions -- and an additional $2 billion into building a pipeline of skilled health care workers with graduate degrees from these institutions -- will boost education and training among communities of color, who are an essential part of the care provider workforce.
  • Child care support will help professional caregivers and other aging services workers balance family and work responsibilities.
  • Paid family leave will help overstretched care workers, as well as family caregivers juggling caring for an older relative with their job. Employers will benefit, too, from improved worker retention.

The plan also includes several provisions that could be adjusted to help professional and family caregivers of older adults, including benefits supporting care workers and an extension of the Dependent Care Tax Credit.

But much more is needed to repair and reimagine America’s patchwork aging support services, strengthen our aging care workforce, and establish an affordable, meaningful set of policies to finance long-term care for those who need it.”

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.