The Biden government has an extensive – and expensive – plan for roads, bridges, and broadband.
But during a swing in West Palm Beach to promote the president’s plans on Monday, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh learned that the Floridians want help with a problem much closer to home: how to care for elderly or sick loved ones.
In addition to a bipartisan plan for physical infrastructure worth $ 1.2 trillion that Congress is still trying to fund, President Biden is pushing a separate plan that allocates up to $ 3.5 trillion for the fight Spend against climate change, promote social programs like Medicaid and reform immigration.
Biden wants $ 400 billion of that $ 3.5 trillion to be used for long-term home health care.
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The Physical Infrastructure Act is backed by Republicans, although that support is fragile and could still lose the support needed to keep it from being killed by Filibuster.
The $ 3.5 trillion “Cares Economy” plan, the details of which are still being worked out, could be approved with Democratic votes alone because a Senate MP resolution allows him to be exempted from filibuster as a budget item.
The Republicans will no less vehemently oppose this.
You have argued that Biden’s spending plans will boost inflation and hurt the economy. They made no such arguments in 2017 when former President Donald Trump enacted a tax cut bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would add $ 2.3 trillion to national debt over the next decade.
Home care workers and others who care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease said they needed help, Walsh, a former Boston mayor.
Healthcare Worker: “I love what I do, but I’m underpaid”
After starting his day on Monday with a tour of a childcare facility in Boynton Beach, Walsh, West Palm Beach, United States MP Lois Frankel, attended a home nursing panel discussion at the Almond Public Library in West Palm Beach then shared another one about elderly care at an Alzheimer’s care facility on Australian Avenue.
During the library forum, Jacinth Finch, a 62-year-old home nurse, told Walsh how difficult it is to make ends meet with a job she loves.
Finch said she makes $ 10 an hour and her rent is $ 1,200 a month.
“The doctor said I shouldn’t be working,” she said. “My knees are both bad. I’m 62 years old and have two jobs.”
Finch said she couldn’t afford medical care or stop working long enough to recover from knee surgery.
Even so, she said she would not stop providing home nursing care.
“It’s a real pleasure,” she said. “I love what I do. I don’t think we should work so hard and earn so little.”
Salandra Benton of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation told Walsh not to view Finch’s circumstances as unique.
“Your story is not uncommon,” Benton said, adding that many of those who work long hours on low wages to care for the elderly or the sick are women and minorities.
Using Finch as an example, Benton said that they do not have a comfortable or even stable retirement ahead of them.
“When she retires, her social security check will be $ 500 a month,” Benton said. “How is she supposed to survive? We have to do better.”
Based on her home nursing income of nearly $ 21,000 a year alone, Finch would qualify for nursing home assistance if she didn’t have assets worth $ 2,000 or more, according to a chart from the American Council on Aging.
Biden wants to expand Medicaid, the federal government’s health program for the poor.
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Medicaid is jointly supported by the federal and state governments. It was expanded with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but Florida remains one of the few states that stopped paying to get more federal funds to cover more poor residents.
Medicare does not cover nursing home assistance or adult day care
The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health research organization, estimated in May that an additional 850,000 poor Floridians could join Medicaid if leaders helped expand the program.
While many of the country’s poorest residents can turn to Medicaid for help with home care, Medicare – the government health program that most seniors qualify for – doesn’t cover nursing home care or adult day care.
This means that those who are not destitute have to dig into their own pockets to cover such costs.
And that cost is high.
Using Genworth health insurer survey data from 2021, the website SeniorLiving.org reported that adult daycare costs an average of $ 74 per day. Housekeeping costs an average of $ 150 a day. Assisted living facilities are $ 141 per day and a semi-private nursing home room is $ 255 per day, $ 45 less per day than a private nursing home room.
In Florida, the survey found that adult day care costs $ 1,300 a month.
Given these costs, many choose to step in the breach themselves when a loved one needs care.
A 2020 study by AARP found that 1 in 5 Americans are now unpaid family carers.
From 2015 to 2020, the proportion of Americans offering unpaid family care services rose from 18 percent to 21 percent, the study shows.
Previous AARP research found caregivers spend 24 hours a week helping loved ones, spending an average of $ 7,000 out of pocket.
“If you become a caregiver, you are,” Elvin Proctor told Walsh on Monday afternoon during a senior forum at the John B. McCracken Alzheimer’s Care and Service Center. “You have to find out where the resources are. You have to be creative.”
Alzheimer’s nurse: “We need help”
Proctor said he was looking after an aunt who had Alzheimer’s disease.
Mary Barnes, president and chief executive officer of Alzheimer’s Community Care, said an estimated 60,000 people in Palm Beach County have Alzheimer’s disease. That number is likely an underestimate, she said.
Margaret Foster, who was also attending the forum with Walsh, told the Secretary of Labor what it was like to look after a husband and brother who needed help.
“It was very difficult,” said Foster. “It’s not an easy task. You need support. You need help. You sleep with your eyes open.”
Walsh thanked the forum participants and highlighted those who care for the elderly or sick.
“My grandmother had Alzheimer’s,” he said. “My aunt took care of her.”
The labor secretary said the swing in West Palm Beach will inform what it is bringing to the president.
What he heard, he said, “confirms what must be in the legislation.”
Frankel said she was “optimistic” that much of what the president is proposing will be incorporated into the law.
“I think there is a lot of support,” she said.
Swinging cabinet secretaries and the attention they can draw to problems doesn’t hurt, she said.
“Ultimately, public opinion is very important,” she said.