Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) have introduced companion resolutions in the Senate and House to express support for expanded home health care services. Long-term services and supports for seniors and individuals with disabilities are proven to be cost-effective, and they enable Americans to live and participate in their communities.
"Supporting and expanding access to affordable, quality long-term services and supports will help millions of Americans live fulfilling lives in their own homes and communities," said Harkin, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Senate sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Keeping with the promise of Olmstead, we must ensure that all people, including seniors and individuals with disabilities, have every chance to enjoy a dignified quality of life."
"As a country, we can make the commitment to provide quality long-term services, so that getting care doesn't depend on whether you are fortunate enough to have a family member willing and able to provide it," said Rep. Schakowsky. "We must expand and invest in a strong home care workforce by creating good jobs, providing career ladders, and valuing direct care workers. We can make long-term care services affordable and accessible for those with disabilities and seniors. The choices we make today won't just affect someone else -- they will affect every person who, at some point in their lives, is very likely to be a care getter or a care giver."
The full text of the resolution follows:
Senate Resolution 128--Expressing the sense of the Senate that supporting seniors and individuals with disabilities is an important responsibility of the United States, and that a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce and making long-term services and supports affordable and accessible in communities is necessary to uphold the right of seniors and individuals with disabilities in the United States to a dignified quality of life.
Mr. HARKIN (for himself, Mrs. Murray, and Mrs. Gillibrand) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:
S. Res. 128
Whereas the aging of the baby boom generation will cause the number of individuals in the United States who are 65 years of age or older to increase from 40,000,000 to 70,000,000 during the next 2 decades;
Whereas 12,000,000 adults, nearly half of whom are under 65 years of age, need long-term services and supports due to functional limitations;
Whereas the decision of the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), mandates the end of unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions, and requires that individuals with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs;
Whereas the vast majority of individuals in the United States prefer to receive long-term services and supports in their homes so that they may continue to live independently and with dignity;
Whereas the costs of long-term services and supports for seniors and individuals with disabilities are high;
Whereas the great expense of long-term services and supports can affect all individuals, regardless of income;
Whereas 70 percent of individuals who are 65 years of age or older will need some form of long-term services and supports;
Whereas the number of individuals who need long-term services and supports is projected to grow from 12,000,000 to 27,000,000 by 2050;
Whereas there are approximately 3,200,000 workers in the direct care workforce, leaving a huge gap between the services needed and the size of the current workforce;
Whereas the United States is experiencing a jobs crisis, as 25,000,000 individuals are unemployed or underemployed;
Whereas home care is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States economy, providing critical daily care, services, and supports to millions of individuals and families across the country;
Whereas an estimated 1,800,000 additional home care workers will be needed during the next decade to serve the growing population of seniors and individuals with disabilities;
Whereas the quality of home care jobs is poor, with low wages, few benefits, high turnover, and a high level of job stress and hazards;
Whereas home care and personal assistance workers earn a median hourly wage of $9.53, and nearly half of such workers live in households that also rely on public assistance;
Whereas approximately 55 percent of home care workers work part-time, and approximately 44 percent of those part-time workers would prefer to work more hours;
Whereas nearly 21 percent of the individuals who provide home care services were born outside the United States;
Whereas a stabilized home care workforce would lead to improved continuity and quality of long-term services and supports;
Whereas the issue of long-term services and supports is a critical issue for women, as 70 percent of individuals who need such care are women 65 years of age or older, 90 percent of paid caregivers are women, and 85 percent of family members and friends who informally provide care are women who often have to leave the paid workforce to provide such care, and thus are at a financial disadvantage during their working years and face a reduction in Social Security benefits when they retire; and
Whereas a comprehensive approach that focuses on job creation and job quality, workforce training, pathways to citizenship and career advancement, and support for individuals and families is necessary to build a strong home care workforce and make quality long-term services and supports affordable and accessible for all individuals in the United States: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce and making long-term services and supports affordable and accessible in communities is necessary to uphold the right of seniors and individuals with disabilities in the United States to a dignified quality of life.
"Accordingly, Mr. President, I am removing my hold on her nomination. However, as I do so, I repeat that it is deeply disappointing and disturbing that this White House apparently does not understand the importance of community-based prevention initiatives.
"I hope and expect that, going forward, the White House will respect the intent of Congress in creating the Prevention Fund in the first place, as a critical feature of the law. I expect the administration to join with us in fighting for the Prevention Fund and in making smart, evidence-based investments in prevention and wellness. This is what real health reform is about. It is our best bet for creating a healthier and more prosperous nation.
"To that important end, we should not be working at cross purposes; we should be working together. We must rededicate ourselves to the great goal of creating a reformed health care system that works not only for the healthy and the wealthy, but for all Americans."