Biden pushes for home health Medicaid coverage, $400 billion in funding

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The Biden administration is calling on Congress to expand access to home and community-based care services covered by Medicaid as part of a multi-billion dollar investment in the “care economy.”

The proposal, part of a larger jobs plan unveiled by the White House on Wednesday, asks Congress to put $400 billion toward expanding access to home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities.

“Even before COVID-19, our country was in the midst of a caregiving crisis,” reads the plan released by the White House on Wednesday morning. “President Biden believes more people should have the opportunity to receive care at home, in a supportive community, or from a loved one.”

The plan doesn’t include many specifics, but it follows a Biden campaign proposal to increase Medicaid funding to states to eliminate wait lists for home and community-based services.

More than 800,000 people were on these wait lists as of 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most of whom have an intellectual or developmental disability.

“Hundreds of thousands of people who need better care are unable to access it, even though they qualify under Medicaid. In fact, it can take years for these individuals to get the services they badly need,” the White House plan reads.

The plan also calls for an expansion of the “Money Follows the Person” federal Medicaid program, which helps move nursing home residents back into their homes.

The White House argues an expansion of home and community based services under Medicaid would also improve care for patients by improving wages for home health workers, many of whom are disproportionately women of color. Studies have shown increased pay for these workers leads to better health outcomes.

Biden’s focus on home and community-based care follows a difficult year for nursing homes, residents and their families. While less than 1% of the population lives in long-term care facilities, residents account for 34% of COVID-19 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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