Today, President Biden announced the Build Back Better budget framework that would make significant investments in our nation, people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support workforce. This new deal includes $150 billion for Medicaid home and community-based services, or HCBS, which provide the support people with disabilities need to be a part of their community, and better pay for the workers that support them.
For years, the service system that people with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) and their families rely on, Medicaid, has needed an investment. People are stuck on waiting lists for HCBS, the direct care workforce is underpaid, and too often, unpaid family caregivers are filling in the gaps.
“This proposal is a huge down payment on investing in the futures of people with disabilities and their families. It will expand access to services for people with disabilities on waiting lists and start addressing the direct care workforce crisis, including raising wages and creating more jobs. Without a robust and well paid workforce, the promise of services in the community falls apart – so it was urgent that the direct support workforce be bolstered in this deal,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.
While the investment in HCBS is major, and includes long fought for funding, even with the most robust investment in these services, families still need paid leave. The Arc has long advocated for a national paid leave program for family caregivers. The pandemic forced millions of people to choose between their own health, the health of their families, and their livelihood. As the BBB package moves forward, The Arc urges Congress to include paid leave as the package moves through the House and Senate.
“We have always known because of the many stories from our network, but the pandemic highlighted for everyone how crucial paid leave is for people with disabilities and their families. Leaving out paid leave is unacceptable, and Congress should include paid leave in this package,” said Berns.
The Arc is also pleased that the framework includes:
- The extension of improvement to the Child Tax Credit for one year and permanent expansion of the credit to the lowest income families;
- The expanded Affordable Care Act premium tax credits through 2025; and
- The extension of improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers with disabilities.
“We urge Congress to act quickly on this plan, add more funding for HCBS as negotiations continue, and fulfill the promise on paid leave. Change can’t come soon enough for millions of people with disabilities and their families,” said Berns.