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Senate Aging Committee Hearing References Need for Quality Direct-Care Jobs

December 20, 2013

On December 18, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hosted a hearing, entitled “The Future of Long-Term Care Policy: Continuing the Conversation,” to review and discuss the recommendations of the Commission on Long-Term Care (pdf), which were released in September.

The hearing featured testimony from three of the Commissioners:

  • Bruce Chernoff, president and CEO, The SCAN Foundation;
  • Judy Feder, professor, Georgetown University, and fellow, Urban Institute; and
  • Mark Warshawsky, visiting adjunct scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

In addition, Anne Tumlinson, senior vice president, Avalere Health, testified before the committee.

Members of the committee and the witnesses primarily focused on how to finance long-term services and supports (LTSS). However, the statements and ensuing discussion also touched on the question that was raised by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), committee chairman, in his opening statement (pdf): “Who is going to deliver these long-term care services? Do we have the right workforce?”

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the committee’s ranking member, noted the shrinking supply of family caregivers (pdf) in the decades ahead. While not noted, the declining ratio of family caregivers to individuals needing care mirrors the projected “care gap” for direct-care workers in the absence of policy intervention to address it.

In response to a question from Chairman Nelson regarding LTSS quality, Dr. Feder noted (video at 1:57) the need for “better standards and training for workers, which is better for the patients whom they serve, but also creates better jobs, accompanied by better pay, for the workers we’re relying on to care for our families.”

PHI Government Affairs Director Carol Regan testified before the Commission in July and submitted her testimony (pdf) to the committee.

— by Deane Beebe

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