As White House focuses on home-based care funding, Polis highlights what Colorado has done

· Dec. 12, 2023, 4:00 am
Joe BidenJoe BidenAndrew Harnik/AP Photo
In this file photo, President Joe Biden speaks about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

The Biden Administration on Tuesday is expected to announce a new rule to make it easier for families to find home health care. 

It will allow the use of federal funds to create a state registry of homecare providers through new guidance from the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services on how states can use and set up worker registries for Medicaid-funded Home and Community Based Services.  According to the new rule, states can use up to 90 percent of some federal funds to create a registry.

The announcement is expected during a meeting at the White House where the administration will highlight how the American Rescue Plan has helped all 50 states invest in home health care services. 

Gene Sperling, American Rescue Plan coordinator for the White House, said the new rule will help families struggling to find care workers, many of whom rely on word of mouth.

“It will also make it easier for people like myself when we were looking for care to be able to look at a registry and understand who's available, who's nearby, who has certain skills, who has certain training,” Sperling said.

The new guidance is part of Biden’s executive order in April that increased access to caregivers. 

The ARP passed along party lines in 2021, and many Republicans remain critical of the spending package. 

“Beneath the politics, all 50 states, red, blue, purple, all applied for these funds,” Sperling said.  “Why? Because care is not a political issue. It's a personal issue. It's a kitchen table economic issue. It's about caring for your loved ones.” 

At the White House meeting, state leaders, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, will discuss how they’ve used the American Rescue Plan 

Attending virtually, Polis is expected to highlight how Colorado used its American Rescue Plan funding to raise base wages for thousands of home health care workers. In 2022, the wage went up to $15 per hour from $12.56.

“With historic federal funding thanks to the work of the Biden Administration and the majority of our federal delegation, Colorado has increased wages to help fill open care positions and help train for the direct care workforce improving home-care services for people with disabilities,” said Shelby Wieman, a Polis spokesperson.

She added on helping people with disabilities and aging Coloradans get needed  long-term care service has been a priority for state leaders.

“It means more Americans getting quality care in their home and community. It means care workers getting the respect and pay they deserve, and it means more family caregivers giving relief or the chance to return to work if they desire,” Sperling said. “We're excited to have Governor Polis's participation in the White House convening because he has been one of the leaders in using these funds to raise wages.”

Other speakers will be Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Maine Gov. Janet Mills. 

The money has also been used for a training program for home healthcare workers and to provide more specialized training, as well as for technical improvements to upgrade or start electronic healthcare record systems.

In total, Colorado received about $510 million more in funding for home and community-based services through the ARP, with $37 billion used across all 50 states for home-based and community-based health care.

However, Sperling said, despite the large infusion of funds, it’s still just a downpayment. But one that is working, he said. He hopes the meeting will also spur some action on a longer-term solution from the government to address “the need for care and care workers across our country.”

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