AARP Eye Center
To understand the impact of Medicaid home care, called home- and community-based services, consider the experiences of just two family caregivers out of millions.
Susan, 66, from South Carolina pays out of her own pocket for full-time care to keep her adult son, who is blind and has cerebral palsy, out of a nursing home. She applied for home care through Medicaid in 2017 and was put on a waiting list for services. Today, Susan has yet to receive any assistance, and is now number 3,089 on that waiting list. Even though her son is eligible to receive Medicaid home care services, Susan returned to work after retiring in order to afford the care her son needs at home. She worries about the future.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
Now, here’s a very different story. Chuck, 68, from New York applied for Medicaid home care to help him care for his elderly mother and an older brother who has schizophrenia, diabetes and nerve damage that limits his mobility. Four times a week, an aide arrives to provide critical help with cleaning, bathing and other household needs that enables Chuck to keep his family under one roof.
While Chuck’s story shows the clear benefit of Medicaid home care, Susan’s experience is all too common. More than 800,000 Americans are currently on waiting lists for home care, and the wait often takes years.
Offer better, safer housing options
We need to provide older Americans with options to live in their homes and communities when health issues make that harder, and Congress now has a historic opportunity to do just that.
The U.S. House passed legislation that contained a large investment to help improve Medicaid home care, such as by expanding services and reducing the waiting list for services and strengthening the paid long-term care workforce — so aides like those who help Chuck’s family can earn a living wage with benefits and the opportunity for training and career advancement.
We urge the inclusion of a large investment in home care in any package that moves forward in Congress and urge the Senate to act.
COVID-19 has reinforced the need to provide better, safer options for high-quality long-term care. More than ever, people need access to affordable home care options so that nursing homes are not their only choice. Yet this concern runs far deeper than the pandemic. A person who turns 65 today faces almost a 70 percent chance that they will require long-term care in their lifetime. Of those turning 65, 20 percent will need more than five years of care. And if you do need care, your options to stay at home depend on where you live and may be extremely limited.