LeadingAge’s new workforce policy director is going full force and shares insight from this week’s workforce advocacy activity.
Tomorrow marks my second full month as the Workforce Policy Director at LeadingAge, and I am proud to say this week was a busy one. There’s nothing my policy colleagues and I enjoy more than moving the needle on policies in support of our provider members and ensuring our collective voices are heard, and this week we’ve had a number of opportunities.
All of us in aging services and health care have felt the impact of the workforce crisis. Undoubtedly you have sat alongside family members and older adults struggling to navigate the caregiving rollercoaster. It is unpredictable and flawed—and they deserve better.
Policymakers have heard your calls for reform and are beginning to understand how fraught and untenable the caregiving workforce landscape has become. My colleague, Todd Adams, and I have noticed a jump in activity by Congress around our sector’s staffing needs, from new bills being introduced in the Senate to hearings and constituent meetings (shoutout to LeadingAge PA!) being hosted. This is great news! It means the right people are paying attention and have heard your stories. Because of your effort, I can amplify your voices and ensure that Congress hears the collective strength and power of LeadingAge members.
The caregiving workforce crisis is complex. I wish I could tell you that there are easy solutions and we will have all of your problems solved by the end of the year, but I am convinced lying is what gives you wrinkles. Still, I can tell you that, having worked in aging and policy for the better part of 15 years, after many discouraging years, I am seeing change—slow change, but change, nonetheless.
My job is to work every day to ensure that leaders, regulators, congressional staff, and others understand plausible paths forward for tackling these issues. From multi-layered regulations for nursing homes to international immigration policies to training programs that accommodate the realities of life for potential workers, it’s not an easy landscape to master, but LeadingAge is throwing the full weight of our expertise, access, research and your on-the-ground experience at this complex issue.
As we move forward, we must continue our ferocious advocacy and put forth an affirmative, innovative, and forward-thinking plan for the next phase of caregiving and support in our country. We can’t wait for outside stakeholders to define our work.
While we haven’t fixed everything, this week has been a milestone for our work, and I’m pleased to share with you what’s been happening in recent days:
LeadingAgesubmitted testimony for the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing, “Supporting Access to Long-Term Services and Supports: An Examination of the Impacts of Proposed Regulations on Workforce and Access to Care,” on Wednesday.
Earlier this week Todd joined agroup of LeadingAge PA staff and provider members visited Capitol Hill to discuss their concerns and suggestions about the proposed federal staffing mandate in several Congressional visits, including U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey’s (D-PA) staff. This visit took place just before the announcement of Casey’s Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act, legislation that would offer states a 10% boost in federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for two years to support Medicaid home and community-based programs and providers (something LeadingAge supports!).
We also joined a coalition of 13 long-term care organizations to senda letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to address the critical shortage of health care workers by fixing the problems that stand in the way of hiring international nurses. We called on Blinken to end the freeze on green cards and EB-3 visas that have created backlogs and hinder the recruitment of much-needed workers—further exacerbating the staff shortages. We also emphasized the need to prioritize nurse cases at the U.S. embassies and consulates and clear the way for nurses outside the U.S. to proceed with immigrant visa interviews.
Attended the Caregiver Nation Summit sponsored by NAC where we heard from PHI and the launch of The Direct Care Worker and Family Caregiver Initiative “Together In Care” designed to increase awareness of the challenges direct care workers and family caregivers face as partners in providing care—and advocate for solutions that support this relationship. While at the Summit, we heard from Lizzy Letter, staff director at U.S. Senate Committee on Aging, in conversation with Robert Espinoza, executive vice president of Policy at PHI, about the future of caregiving. I was honored to ask Lizzy about how we can address the fraught caregiving pathway.
Next up is Friday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee field hearing, “Overworked and Undervalued: Is the Severe Hospital Staffing Crisis Endangering the Well-Being of Patients and Nurses,” at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, at 9 a.m. ET. I’ll bewatching the live stream and submitting testimony for the record to highlight the ripple effect of caregiver shortages on the entire health and long-term care ecosystem.