Presidential Candidate Buttigieg Proposes Increasing In-Home Care Access for Seniors

Democratic presidential hopeful and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, unveiled his plans to provide older adults access to long-term care, including in-home care, on Monday.

For now, it’s unclear how much Buttigieg’s plan will cost.

The candidate released a set of policy proposals — Dignity and Security in Retirement — that aims to lessen the financial burden of in-home care and other long-term care services.

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Buttigieg’s plan would set up Long-Term Care America, a benefit program that would give eligible older adults $90 a day, for as long as its needed, to help cover the costs of long-term care, such as a nursing home or an in-home caregiver.

“It’s not easy or cheap to age these days,” Buttigieg noted in his plan. “On average, it costs more than $50,000 a year to employ a home health aide to cook meals, manage medication, or help with bathing. These financial expenses are expected to increase as the over-65 population grows. This makes the need for a system to help Americans plan for and manage these costs even more urgent.”

Both Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed that long-term care would be covered under Medicare for All.

On top of tackling affordability for older adults, the Dignity and Security in Retirement plan address the caregiver workforce shortage.

Buttigieg’s plan calls for an expansion of caregiver training programs, the development of online marketplaces and job broads, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and the creation of a community renewal visa for immigrant caregivers.

Overall, the health care industry often relies on immigrant labor — especially for the care of seniors. Immigrants accounted for more than 18% of U.S. health care workers in 2017, according to Health Affairs.

For home care specifically, more than 27% of workers are immigrants, according to the Health Affairs study.

Additionally, Buttigieg’s plan aims to provide support for unpaid family caregivers who provide an estimated $470 billion hours worth of care, according to AARP.

“Through his investment in advanced training programs, Pete’s administration will ensure that more long-term care navigators are trained to help guide family caregivers through this process,” the plan states. “Community hubs will be forums for family caregivers to get support and access trained navigators, especially in rural and underserved communities.”

Broadly, this move falls in line with the efforts of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), who have long articulated the need for federally funded respite care programs.

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