Seniors are a vulnerable portion of our population because they face many challenges both physically and financially. This population is also growing at a fast rate with 10,000 adults turning 65 every day. President Biden has some exciting ideas when it comes to caring for older adults and addressing the challenges they face. In fact, his plan groups childcare and elder care together to tackle the larger issue of caregiving. Here’s an overview of President Biden’s caregiving plan.
As we mentioned, Biden’s plan aims to address caregiving across the age spectrum so that both children and adults who need care can receive it. His plan looks to expand Medicaid benefits for individuals who need care and to create better jobs for caregivers. Family members who provide care across generations could see expanded paid family leave that they need.
As we have experienced the pandemic this past year, we have seen the pressure rise for the sandwich generation who must meet the caregiving demands of their children and their parents. They have to make sure their kids are doing their schoolwork from home while also making sure mom and dad are alright. Many individuals have been forced to leave the workforce as a result of those demands. A more holistic approach to caregiving could be what these families need to manage caregiving responsibilities.
Focus on the Home
Biden’s plan also recognizes that many seniors want to age in place and stay in their homes rather than go to a nursing home or another senior living community. The caregiving plan aims to help cover the costs of aging at home instead of a senior community. Historically, insurance covers nursing homes over home-based or even community-based services — even if home-based care is preferred. This new plan could be a huge shift in how seniors can access the care they need.
This shift is a welcome one not only because more seniors want to remain at home but because COVID-19 has shown how dangerous nursing homes can be. The virus and other infections can spread rapidly in senior communities and endanger residents there. Remaining at home could be a more comfortable and a safer option for aging seniors.
The Biden caregiving plan also includes some specific tax credits for seniors and their family caregivers. It proposes as much as $5,000 to help reimburse families for the costs associated with unpaid caregiving. This tax break could help benefit middle-class families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but who also don’t make enough money to pay for their loved one’s long-term care.
And there are many costs that are associated with caring for an aging loved one. Homes may need modifications to make them safer for seniors — like grab bars, ramps, additional lighting, etc. Families may need to bring in outside help for respite care every now and then. They may also need to pay for monitoring devices, hearing aids, or other medical equipment that is not covered by insurance. A tax credit could help families cover these extra unanticipated costs.
The credits don’t stop there! Biden’s plan also includes social security credits for family members who care for their aging loved ones. These credits would help make up for time they spend out of the work force to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities.
The plan also calls for tax credits for seniors who are still in the workforce to encourage them to delay taking their Social Security benefit. This could help seniors save more money and ultimately get a higher monthly benefit from their Social Security.
While caregiving is a noble profession, it is also one that experiences a lot of churn, or turnover. This means that many individuals leave their jobs as caregivers. This is due to a number of different factors, including:
- Low wages
- Lack of health benefits
- Lack of sick leave
- Lack of training
Churn can make it difficult for families and senior care providers to find and keep quality caregivers. Biden’s plan hopes to support unionization of caregivers so that they can fight against unfair working conditions, get increased pay and more benefits, and have stronger legal protections.
The plan also aims to create 3 million new jobs in caregiving and education. Biden hopes to expand opportunities for caregivers to receive further training or credits to help them expand their skills and advance as professionals. It would also allow unpaid caregivers to re-enter the workforce, helping to raise employment in the United States.
Biden’s plan also calls for $50 billion in new tax revenue to go toward research on common health conditions that seniors face, like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. Advancements in these areas could help improve the quality of life for many seniors along with future generations.
Lower Prescription Costs
Another aspect of the Biden caregiving plan is to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Seniors have more prescriptions than other segments of our population. This is due to the fact that they have lower immune systems and often struggle with chronic health conditions. However, the cost of the medications to manage these conditions can be quite expensive. As costs rise, seniors are stuck on a fixed income and may not be able to make ends meet.
While this plan is ambitious and looks to break down age barriers, it does come at a cost. Biden’s proposed plan would cost $775 billion over a decade. Many individuals in opposition to this plan point toward the high price tag and the potential for raised taxes and a greater budget deficit. They also point out gaps in the plan — like more paid family leave, access to long-term support and services, etc.
However, there is clear support from both parties to help ease the financial and emotional burdens that families face when caring for aging relatives. At Caring Senior Service, we are advocates for seniors, and we hope to see changes soon that allow aging adults to remain healthy, happy, and at home.