Political Parties Vow to Prioritize Home Care, Differ on Details
The nominees for the next President of the United States have been chosen by the country’s major political parties in recent national conventions, and each respective party has published their plans for America. For home health, the question of how each candidate could impact the industry lies in recent policy positions made available.
We’ve pooled the party positions on some key home health issues below:
Home Care Priority
Both Republican and Democratic parties explicitly stated in their 2016 platforms that they understand most seniors want to age in place, and acknowledged the growing aging population and the potential long-term care crisis ahead. Increasing accessibility to home care services has been adopted by both parties as a policy priority.
“Democrats will take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports, and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community,” the Democratic platform reads.
Republicans similarly noted that home care is a “priority” for the aging population.
“Our aging population must have access to safe and affordable care,” the Republican platform reads. “Because most seniors desire to age at home, we will make homecare a priority in public policy and will implement programs to protect against elder abuse.”
The language in both platforms mirror that from 2012, when home care was also made a health care priority by Republicans and Democrats.
Home health industry group the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has supported the inclusion of home care in both parties’ policy goals over the last several years.
The Democratic platform explicitly mentions helping family caregivers through investments. The Republican platform does not mention caregivers. Democrats also address workforce conditions for caregivers, promising to boost wages, accessibility to training and opportunities for advocacy.
“Our work and family policies must also help family caregivers,” the Democratic platform reads. “We will ensure that family caregivers have the support, respite care, and training they need to support their loved ones. We will create a strong paid caregiving workforce to help meet families’ needs by raising wages, improving access to training, and giving workers the opportunity to come together to make their voices heard in support of a stronger system.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has also explicitly supported expanding home care and has proposed more respite care for home care workers and a new tax credit for family caregivers.
Between the two parties, there is a big divide among workforce issues, particularly when it comes to wage levels. The Democratic platform supports a “living wage,” up to $15 per hour for workers, which would be implemented at the federal level over time.
Republicans, on the other hand, support minimum wage to be set at state and local levels.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and was last set in 2009. Several states and cities have minimum wage rates that are significantly higher than the federal rate.
Home health care workers, who only recently won the right to minimum wage and overtime protections in a Department of Labor ruling, have recently strongly advocated for a living wage. The Fight for $15 per hour also took center stage at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia last week as advocates met with legislators to discuss wage issues and a home care worker spoke during the convention.
Affordable Care Act
One of the biggest differences between the two parties lies in their commitment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has set off numerous regulations for the home health industry in its wake, as the health care system shifts toward value-based purchasing.
Republicans have long vowed to repeal the ACA and replace it, and have made it a cornerstone of the party’s most recent platform. The platform also opposes Medicaid expansion as outlined in the ACA, and instead proposes block Medicaid grant funding.
“Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with the repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare,” the Republican platform reads. “It must be removed and replaced with an approach based on genuine competition, patient choice, excellent care, wellness, and timely access to treatment. To that end, a Republican president, on the first day in office, will use legitimate waiver authority under the law to halt its advance and then, with the unanimous support of Congressional Republicans, will sign its repeal.”
Democrats have stood behind the ACA and hope to continue Medicaid expansion on a state-by-state basis. Democrats also oppose Medicaid block funding.
“We will keep fighting until the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has been adopted in every state,” the Democrats’ platform maintains.
Read the full Republican 2016 platform here.
Read the full Democratic 2016 platform here.
Written by Amy Baxter