Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Fight Critical Shortage Of Home Health Aides And Other Long-Term Care Workers, Help Seniors Age At Home

Apr 17, 2024

Long-Term Care Workers Help Seniors Eat, Bathe, And Perform Other Basic Daily Tasks; Without Them, Seniors Are At Risk Of Becoming Bedridden And Facing Serious Health Complications;

New York State Is Currently Facing A Shortage of Over 1.2 Million Home Care Workers

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a virtual press conference to announce the Long-Term Care Workforce Support Act, legislation that would address a nationwide shortage of long-term care workers. Long-term care workers, including certified nursing assistants, personal care aides, and home health aides, allow seniors to age with dignity, but low wages, understaffing, and poor working conditions in the field have led to a severe shortage of workers. This shortage means that seniors have to wait months or even years without getting the assistance they need. Gillibrand’s legislation would make major federal investments to strengthen and expand the long-term care workforce, including in rural and underserved communities. 

Most long-term care workers earn unacceptably low wages. Of the 3.7 million aides in home health or personal care in 2022, half earned under $30,000 annually. As a result, many are forced to rely on SNAP and other public assistance programs, while others leave for better paying and less physically demanding work. Inconsistent hours, wage theft, and unpaid overtime are also rampant in the industry. The Long-Term Care Workforce Support Act would help address these industry-wide issues, incentivizing existing long-term care workers to stay in the field and attracting additional workers to join it. 

Long-term care workers are too often forced out of the industry because of low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of opportunities for advancement. This has serious consequences for our older adults, who struggle to get the care they need. By providing federal funding to improve compensation and training and implementing robust worker protections, this legislation would help retain current long-term care workers and attract new individuals to work in the industry. It will give some of our most essential health care workers the respect they deserve and make sure our seniors are cared for. I’m determined to get this passed.” 

Specifically, the Long-Term Care Workforce Support Act would: 

  1. Help Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) agencies retain staff and reduce vacancies and turnover by providing them with additional federal reimbursement for serving Medicaid recipients. These additional funds would allow HCBS agencies to provide higher compensation and better benefits to workers. Specifically, the bill would increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by 10 percentage points for state Medicaid long-term care services.
  2. Provide $100 billion in federal grants over 5 years to states to expand the long-term care workforce. These grants will help provide eligible individuals – including those in rural and underserved communities that are facing severe home health care worker shortages – with opportunities for education, training, and career advancement.
  3. Improve labor protections and benefits for long-term care workers. The legislation would expand protections against wage theft, implement fair scheduling practices, ensure the right to meals and rest, and require all employers to provide paid sick time. It would also give the Secretary of Labor the authority to investigate and take action against any violations.