“Fiscal Cliff” Has Serious Implications for Eldercare
October 19, 2012
New York, N.Y. – If the across-the-board cuts, or “sequester,” scheduled for January 2013 take effect, they will have a significant negative impact on services for older adults and the supply of qualified professionals available to care for them, according to an issue brief released today by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), a coalition of 29 national organizations committed to person-centered team care for older adults.
As Congress and the Administration consider options to avert the “fiscal cliff,” the Alliance is urging them to protect the Title VII and VIII, Medicare, and Older Americans Act programs which are essential for quality care for older adults.
Asking for Congress to avert the cuts, the Alliance stresses the importance of investments in eldercare workforce programs, given the demographic shift facing the nation. “The first of the baby boomers began to turn 65 in 2011; within 20 years, one in five Americans will be over 65. Ninety percent of those Americans will have one or more chronic conditions.” said Nancy Lundebjerg, EWA co-convener and COO of the American Geriatrics Society. “We simply must ensure these individuals receive high-quality, efficient care. It is not only a moral imperative, but a fiscal one.”
Despite the growing need for well-coordinated quality care, there is currently a shortage of healthcare professional and direct-care workers with training to meet the unique needs of older adults. "In the current decade, the direct-care workforce alone will require more than a million new workers to provide care to people with long-term care needs. We literally cannot afford any cuts to eldercare workforce programs," said Alliance co-convener Dr. Michèle Saunders.
In addition to raising concerns about cuts put in place by the sequester, the brief notes that cuts to Medicaid as part of an alternative to the sequester would be harmful as well. “If Congress decides to replace the sequester with cuts to Medicaid, it will set us way back on progress toward our goal of providing home and community-based long-term care for older adults rather than care in institutions. Cuts to Medicaid would be equally devastating to older adults, health care jobs, and essential health care services,” said Saunders.
Calling for the strengthening of eldercare occupations, the Alliance urges Congress and the President to take a balanced approach to addressing our nation’s deficit that protects the most vulnerable and that provides adequate funding to protect care for older adults and to ensure a health care workforce with the skills needed to meet their needs.
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance, a project of The Advocacy Fund, is comprised of 29 national organizations united in their commitment to address the eldercare workforce shortage in order to ensure that our grandparents and parents receive quality care in the settings of their choice.*
The positions of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance reflect a consensus of 75 percent or more of its members. These endorsements reflect the consensus of the Alliance and do not necessarily represent the position of individual Alliance member organizations.