Workers and seniors deserve investments in home care infrastructure
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As part of the American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden has proposed $400 billion to better support the nation’s caregiving industry. If passed, the legislation will strengthen our nation’s care infrastructure by expanding home and community-based care services and creating at least a million new jobs in the care economy to address the rising care needs of older Americans and people with disabilities. The bill will also give more home care workers the option to join together in a union and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, training, and working conditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inequities and fragility of our home care industry which is 87 percent women. More than half of home care workers are Black, Latina, or Asian women, and three in ten home care workers are immigrants. Over the last year, many of our nation’s home care workers have served on the front lines of the pandemic, with little to no benefits and low wages.

This issue is personal for me. When I was nine weeks old, my grandmother suffered a debilitating stroke and needed around-the-clock nursing home care for the remaining 27 years of her life. I spent much of my childhood and young adulthood in nursing homes, by her side. I can only imagine the heartbreak of families who have not been able to visit their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, our care workers have provided support and empathy to nursing home residents and their families. It’s time that we honor their service, which has for too long been undervalued, underappreciated, and underpaid. This isn’t just a family or private issue — our lack of care infrastructure hurts our entire economy.

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Care work makes all work possible, especially now. At a time when COVID-19 has exposed the entrenched racial and gender inequities that ripple across the economy, President BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE’s push to expand home care based-services under Medicaid will lift up workers, families, workers, and our economy. Any attempt at economic recovery that does not include supporting caregiving will fall short.

Investing in home care workers and our care infrastructure is critical to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and charting a safer and brighter future for our families. By 2028, our country will need to fill 4.7 million home care jobs to meet rising demand, but we cannot do that sustainably or ethically when one in six home care workers live in poverty. Investing in those who care for us is a huge step to create an inclusive, equitable economy that works for everyone — where all working people have a fair shot at opportunity, with no exceptions.

After spending a decade helping train Nevadans for good-paying union jobs in the hospitality and service industries, I know the power of unions and how they can strengthen our families and communities. It’s time to make sure that everyone working in this essential profession is respected and protected, that they are paid a living wage, and that they have a seat at the table to advocate for themselves and for their clients. We need to show that this work is valued in our country and we need a plan to create a new home care infrastructure that meets the needs of our aging country.

I urge all lawmakers to support investing in the home care industry and President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. This is long-overdue — 89 percent of voters want Congress to take action on this issue because everyone has an aging parent, friend, or loved one who does or will one day need long-term care. We all should have access to quality, affordable care in the setting of our choice when that day comes. It’s time to get behind the American Jobs Plan so our nation’s seniors, people with disabilities, and working families get the urgent support we need.

Congressman Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordWorkers and seniors deserve investments in home care infrastructure Biden unveils plan for racial equity at Tulsa Race Massacre centennial Tulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice MORE represents Nevada’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to serving in Congress, he led the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, the largest job-training center in the state of Nevada. He is a founding member and co-chair of the House Labor Caucus.