Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is calling for $400 billion to fund elder care in the United States.
In an interview with Reuters, the Biden administration official warned that the shortage in caregivers for senior citizens would hit America “like a ton of bricks” without federal intervention:
President Joe Biden does not yet have enough support from fellow Democrats to secure $400 billion in spending for at-home care for the elderly and disabled that the economy desperately need, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Reuters on Monday.
Biden in March proposed boosting Medicaid, the federal medical program for lower-income Americans, by $400 billion over a decade to fund at-home care for elderly and disabled people, and increasing wages for caregivers. He remains committed to that $400 billion figure, Raimondo said.
She said details of the pending reconciliation bill — a Democrats-only budget measure that will include parts of Biden’s spending plans not included in a pared-down bipartisan infrastructure bill — were still being worked out.
As Reuters referenced, Democrats will attempt to pass the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda through budget reconciliation — a process by which they can circumvent the 60-vote threshold to hold debate in the Senate.
Executives in the home care industry agree that insufficient funds to pay caregivers is a major challenge to the sector. Sunny Days In-Home Care CEO John Bennett, who consulted with other executives based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told The Daily Wire that any increased funding would be better managed by state governments.
“Many of those points that [Raimondo] brought up — we do agree that there is a caregiver crisis and there is a need to incentivize caregivers to work in the Medicaid space, which we operate very heavily in,” he explained. “There’s not enough reimbursements to be able to pay caregivers an amount that actually attracts workers. We’re paying people $11, $12, and $13 per hour while they can get a $15 per hour job at Home Depot or Walmart.”
“Taking big government and throwing money at it, I don’t think that’s ever the best idea, particularly in situations like this,” he continued. “State governments do a little bit of a better job. They have a better understanding of what’s needed in their state specifically. So if the federal government allocated a budget to state governments — and state governments were in control of the program — I would personally be in favor of that, but just another government program set up for this, I just don’t think it’s going to be helpful.”
The Biden administration’s American Families Plan — a $1.8 trillion spending bill — would drastically expand federal education and healthcare programs. It is unclear whether Congressional Democrats will succeed in enacting the entire package.