The most comprehensive bill for care workers and those in need of care has been passed, and it’s a win for veterans. Signed by President Biden in April, a new executive order was put in place that will expand access to affordable, high-quality care and provide support for care workers and family caregivers. This executive order, which includes more than 50 directives for agencies across the government, is the most inclusive set of executive actions any President has ever taken to make care more affordable and accessible for hardworking families and to increase support for care workers and family caregivers.
“This directive recognizes the dire importance of care workers while taking an ALL-government approach with support from agencies—like the Department of Veterans Affairs, among others—to improve access to home-based care for veterans, enhance job quality for long-term care workers, and support family caregivers,” The President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Charles Brown, stated in a press release. “This is truly a day to remember—a day where our nation’s caregivers are finally prioritized, valued, seen and supported.”
The bill comes at a time when child care and care for elderly and disabled adults has increased in price and decreased in compensation. In the last decade, the cost of long-term care for veterans has increased by over 40%, the workforce has decreased by 8%, and the care workforce has seen more than 50% in turnover rates. Under this new order, the hope is that care will be more accessible and affordable to those who need it, and those who are providing the care will be fairly compensated.
The order consists of five sections covering the methods by which the livelihoods of care workers and those they care for will be improved. The sections cover the following:
Section 1: Policy
The first section of the executive order details how child care and long-term care have become critical to communities throughout the country. Early childhood education is crucial to giving children a strong start in life. At the same time, long-term care helps people with disabilities to participate in their communities in an accessible, dignified way. Care work has been deemed a matter of national security as access to care encourages the recruitment, readiness and retention of current and future military service members.
Section 2: Compensation and Job Quality
The second section of the executive order details the ways in which different federal departments will work to improve the compensation and job quality of care workers. Amongst the numerous coverages outlined in the order, some of the most notable include the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ new responsibility to increase health care coverages and compensation for care workers providing federally funded services, implement strategies to expand mental health support for care workers, develop training and professionals to create a more informed, enjoyable working environment.
Specifically for veterans and their families, significant impacts will include:
- The VA issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking by the end of this fiscal year that would make any appropriate modifications to eligibility criteria for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
- The development and implementation of a pilot program by the VA to offer psychotherapy via video telehealth to family caregivers within the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
Section 3: Accessibility and Affordability
Section 3 of the ordinance calls for an increase in affordable, high-quality care for workers delivering federally assisted projects. This will include lowering the cost of care for families eligible for federal programs, identifying potential opportunities to reduce current barriers to eligibility for specific federal programs, increasing access to childcare through employment services and partnerships to be provided to help fund those who need access to care work.
For veterans and their families, significant impacts include:
- The Department of Defense taking steps to enhance the recruitment and retention of the Department’s child development program workers and to improve the affordability of child care for service members by September 2023.
Section 4: Expanding Options for Families by Building the Supply of Care
Section 4 details how this order will provide families with more options for high-quality long-term home and community-based care and early learning services. This will include the implementation of rules and policies, furthering education for care workers of children with disabilities and distributing this care to Native tribes.
The order states that the VA will:
- Consider expanding the existing Veteran Directed Care Program to all Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers by the end of fiscal year 2024.
- Consider designing and evaluating a pilot program in no fewer than five veteran sites or five states for a new Co-Employer Option for delivering veteran home health services.
- Consider improving the Home-Based Primary Care program by adding 75 new interdisciplinary teams to provide care to veterans in their homes.
Source: The White House