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OWL Briefing Highlights Long-Term Care as a Women’s Issue

May 14, 2014

In celebration of Mother’s Day 2014, advocates and policymakers gathered on Capitol Hill for a briefing hosted by OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, which highlighted the importance of long-term services and supports (LTSS) as an issue for women — consumers, family caregivers, and direct-care workers alike.

The briefing also included the release of OWL’s 2014 Mother’s Day report “Long-Term Care: Managing Our Future” (pdf).

Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said at the briefing that while the Medicaid program has made progress on “rebalancing” the proportion of LTSS delivered in home- and community-based settings versus institutions, many more advances are necessary.

Rowland suggested that modest improvements to the financing of some LTSS could be made through the Medicare program. She also identified the LTSS workforce as an important issue that has been left “off the table” in many LTSS policy discussions to date. She argues that wages and certification for this workforce must be addressed.

Another speaker, Jessica Brill Ortiz, national advocacy director for the Direct Care Alliance, noted the predominance of women in the direct-care workforce and the importance of this workforce to the nation’s economy. Direct-care occupations are projected to grow by 48 percent by 2020, compared to just 14 percent growth for all occupations.

Brill Ortiz offered several policy solutions, including:

  • passage of the Healthy Families Act to ensure direct-care workers and other workers have access to paid sick days;
  • establishing minimum training standards for personal care attendants; and
  • passage of legislation to test advanced roles for aides.

— by Gail MacInnes, PHI National Policy Analyst

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