What the new healthcare infrastructure plan means for LTC & home health employers
In the new infrastructure plan announced by President Biden at the beginning of April 2021, $400 billion has been allocated for funding for the nation’s long-term care (LTC) facilities and home health clinical delivery. What will this injection to available funds, resources and clinical personnel mean to the nation’s healthcare infrastructure — and to the LTC and home health providers it’s trying to help?
‘Think of Home Care Workers’
Described as an effort “to support families’ long-term health needs,” Kaiser Health News’ Judith Graham explains via NPR that the $400 billion would “fund the kinds of home-based, long-term health care services and aides that many families have, until now, found unaffordable.”
If passed, the budget overhaul would represent a major boost of funding into the home health and long-term care workforce. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the government has made similar efforts, such as the expansion of reimbursement for at-home delivery of occupational therapy.
The idea is to provide assistance — practical, as well as financial — for the estimated 53 million family members across the United States who currently “provide most of the care that vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities require — without being paid and often at significant financial and emotional cost,” writes Graham.
The spirit of the plan would, in theory, “allow in-home care providers to more effectively recruit and retain workers, which would then ultimately save the U.S. health care system money by keeping patients in the lowest-cost setting,” according to Home Health Care News.
If this expectation is borne out by the details of the new funding, it could mean a chance for those home health providers to expand their base of nurses, clinicians and administrative personnel. That aligns with Graham’s take that the plan would fund “a larger, better paid, better trained workforce of aides that help people in their homes.”
It also aligns with the stated goals of the president himself, whose name for the larger funding strategy is the “American Jobs Plan.” The idea, as he stated in his announcement of the plan, is to “extend access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care” by funding the employment more of the workers who provide that care — new workers as well as improving the lot of existing workers.
“Think of expanded vital services like programs for seniors,” said President Biden. “Or think of home care workers going into homes of seniors and people with disabilities, cooking meals, helping them get around their homes and helping them be able to live more independently.”
If passed, then, the new economic plan could offer a big injection of funding that goes toward the employment of clinical staff focused on at-home care. That means bringing more new workers into the fold, as well as expanding benefits and compensation for the missions of Americans who are already doing this work.
Crunching the Numbers: Expected Impact of Biden’s Healthcare Infrastructure Plan
The new infrastructure plan would expand the role of Medicare and Medicaid in meeting some of the costs associated with long-term and at-home care. Citing numbers from a Genworth survey, Graham defines the average costs as follows:
- $24 per hour – average cost of a home health aide
- $51,600 – average yearly cost of an assisted living center
- $93,075 – average yearly cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home
Medicare coverage of these costs is surprisingly “extremely limited,” as industry leaders are no doubt aware — but which the public generally is not, as Graham points out. That coverage reimburses home-based care “only for older adults and people with severe disabilities who are homebound and need skilled services from nurses and therapists,” she writes. “It does not pay for 24-hour care or care for personal aides or homemakers.”
The funding of those home health aides is central to the plan, giving those essential caregivers “a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits and an opportunity to organize or join a union.’” Specific allocations have yet to be determined or announced, but an expansion of CMS coverage for at-home services is likely.
And an expansion of coverage for those services could alter the nature and cost of the workforce available to long-term and nursing facilities, as well as home health providers. The result could be a surge in hiring for those caregivers, which could in turn make highly qualified individuals harder to find and more difficult to retain, given the abundance of new opportunities they’ll be able to access.
For some facilities, any such change to their working margins is no small matter. Those leaders seeking to insulate their organizations from dramatic workforce fluctuation in the months and years to come may want to consider finding a healthcare managed services (MSP) with experience in LTC, skilled nursing and home health.
CareerStaff Is Here to Help
Healthcare managed services programs like those offered by CareerStaff Unlimited are one way to make sure your organization is maximizing the benefits that may be available under the new budget plan. With our nationwide network of nurses, clinicians and administrative workers, we’re also prepared to help make sure your workforce can expand to meet new CMS reimbursements.
Whether you’d like help or guidance creating a new strategy to meet the opportunities or prepare for the potential risks, or simply need access to a nationwide network of nurses and clinicians skilled in delivering the highest quality patient care, we’re here to help.
MSP services from CareerStaff offer all the benefits of a nationwide staffing and recruitment partner along with the added workforce management solutions you need to optimize your resources and workflows. Everything from sourcing and hiring to benefits allocation and payment processing can be handled in one line item on your budget. Contact us today to learn how we can help your facility.