Working for strong schools, safe streets and smart development in my local community as well as the state of Maryland and America. One person can make a difference!

Friday, October 08, 2021

Most caregivers are women and they suffer economically as well as emotionally

People are desperately trying to care to care for their loved ones whether they are elderly or young; disabled or able bodied, competent or suffering with lack of capacity. People, mainly women, shoulder most of the caregiving responsibilities at home and find that there is not a lot of support available. A recent Washington Post article on Home Care discussed the dismal state of the home and community based waiver program here in Maryland. On October 21, 2021, I will be participating in an American Bar Association seminar Workplace Caregiver Challenge and its Impact on Wealth where we will be discussing how caregiving disproportionately affects women.

 Here are some relevant observations from the Washington Post article:

Home-care workers earn a median wage of $12 an hour, and about a fifth of them live in poverty, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The Medicaid rate for direct-support professionals (DSPs), who make up the bulk of home-care workers, can be half or a third of what private payers offer, so many staffing agencies don’t take Medicaid reimbursement.

In Maryland, the number of nursing home beds for long-term care had been declining for more than a decade before the pandemic. Rather than admit their loved ones into an institution, some families empty their savings to pay for a professional caregiver or have a relative, often a woman, cut down on work to provide care herself.

In 2005, facing criticism that the long-term care system in the United States had an “institutional bias,” the federal government made it possible — but not mandatory — for states to offer home and community-based services (HCBS) with Medicaid dollars. The goal was to let regular families access at-home help, a type of care usually reserved for the affluent. But over the past decade, experts say, these waiver programs have fallen far short of meeting demand.

In the caregiver Facebook groups that Rivers was in, people talked about a bill in Congress — recently absorbed into the $3.5 trillion spending plan mired in debate on Capitol Hill — that would permanently bump up the federal match for home-based care and designate $400 billion for states to expand access to such services.