Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) reintroduced the Improving Care for Vulnerable Older Citizens and People with Disabilities through Workforce Advancement Act, bipartisan legislation to create sustainable career paths for direct care workers while improving care and lowering health care costs.
“For too long our society has undervalued and underinvested in the lifesaving work that direct care workers do, shortchanging our nation’s caregivers and our loved ones under their care,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This bipartisan legislation would help develop our direct care workforce in order to improve the quality of care for older adults and people with disabilities, reduce costs for individuals and our health care system and finally reward direct care workers with the high-quality jobs they deserve.”
Today in the United States, an estimated 4.6 million direct care workers assist older adults and people with disabilities with everything from bathing and cooking to medication management. Yet, despite the essential nature of their work, many direct care workers fail to earn a living wage and almost none have opportunities for career advancement. Unsurprisingly, direct care workers report low job satisfaction, which contributes to high turnover that can be both costly and detrimental to patient care.
Preliminary research suggests that providing direct care workers with career advancement opportunities would improve an array of outcomes, with some studies indicating that these opportunities can increase job satisfaction and retention and reduce emergency room admissions and health care costs.
The Improving Care for Vulnerable Older Citizens and People with Disabilities through Workforce Advancement Act would build upon this preliminary research by establishing a demonstration program to test the effect of providing direct care workers with opportunities for career advancement—specifically, additional training, an expanded role and increased compensation on care, cost and workforce outcomes.
This legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-01).
“For many families, in-home heath care is preferred to maintain quality of life and keep expenses lower for seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Rep. McKinley. “But in-home care faces limitations, requiring training for a specialized skilled workforce. This bill will address both of those needs, by expanding the specialized training programs available, growing the skilled workforce that supports these essential home care services.”
The Paraprofessional Health Institute (PHI) has endorsed this legislation.
“We applaud Congressman Cartwright for reintroducing the Improving Care for Vulnerable Older Citizens and People with Disabilities through Workforce Advancement Act,” said Jodi M. Sturgeon, President of PHI. “If enacted, this bill would significantly strengthen the evidence base on advancement opportunities for direct care workers, which would improve their jobs, enhance care coordination and delivery for older adults and people with disabilities, and create cost efficiencies for the long-term care system.”
Text of the bill can be viewed HERE.