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PRESS RELEASE: Baucus Bill Has Benefits for DCWs

September 18, 2009

Senate Finance Committee’s Healthcare Bill Will Better Prepare Direct-Care Workers to Serve Older and Disabled Americans

Two Demonstration Projects to Train, Educate and Support Workers

New York, NY — In the Chairman’s Mark released September 16, Senator Max Baucus has addressed the health care needs of America’s elders and people with disabilities by including provisions aimed at improving training and compensation for direct-care workers—the nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal assistants who provide millions of Americans with daily hands-on assistance.

The bill includes provisions for two groundbreaking, competitive demonstration grant programs. One program would provide eligible low-income people financial and supportive assistance when receiving education and training for health care jobs affected by labor shortages. Demand for direct-care positions makes it the fastest-growing occupation in the country, but historically employers have had trouble attracting sufficient numbers of workers to these positions because of poor compensation, training, and career opportunities.

The second program aims to develop a set of core training competencies and certification programs for personal and home care aides. Currently, there are no federal training requirements for these direct-care workers, who provide assistance with non-health related tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing.

“We applaud Senator Baucus for his commitment to better prepare and support direct care workers,” said Steven Dawson, president of PHI, a nonprofit working to strengthen eldercare and disability services in the United States.

“With Congressional support, direct-care workers can better provide the quality of care that America’s rapidly growing population of elders and people with disabilities desperately needs and deserves.”

The Chairman’s Mark includes a total of $425 million in funding over five years for these competitive demonstration grant programs designed to help sustain the health professions workforce.

“PHI appreciates that the Committee recognized the need to substantially increase the scale of funding for these initiatives from what they had considered earlier,” Mr. Dawson said.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging consulted PHI for technical advice on the training and certification demonstration program. This project would award grants to six states over three years to develop core competencies and certification programs for personal and home care aides. The training includes a range of components to develop direct-care workers abilities in areas such as personal care skills; communication, cultural and linguistic competence and sensitivity to persons in need of care; and providing clients with self-help skills.

There are currently more than 3 million direct-care workers. By 2016, the workforce is expected to grow to 4 million, more than the number of registered nurses or K-12 teachers.

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PHI (www.phinational.org) works to improve the lives of people who need home and residential care—and the lives of the workers who provide that care.

Deane Beebe
Media Relations Director
dbeebe@PHInational.org
718.928.2033 / 718.812.5586

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