Groups Back American Families Plan to Boost Pay for Caregivers
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
PHOENIX, Ariz. - A coalition of social activists and care-industry groups is calling for Congress to pass President Joe Biden's American Families Plan.
It's part of Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, with about $400 billion to boost home and community-based services for vulnerable people who need assistance. Studies estimate more than 40 million Americans provide hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid care for family members.
Ai-jen Poo, executive director of Caring Across Generations, said the need for paid family leave and affordable care services in Arizona and elsewhere continues to grow.
"Families also require more supportive services," said Poo, "for veterans and people with disabilities, and older adults - who wish to remain in the comfort of their own homes and communities. But these options have too often been out of reach. "
Caring Across Generations sponsored a recent online town hall meeting to discuss Arizona families' needs. Most Republicans and some Democrats oppose the Biden plan, saying it costs too much.
The session included advocacy groups, elected officials and family members who provide care for a child with a disability, or a retired military spouse with service-related injuries. Poo said the needs are great.
"Nationwide," said Poo, "we have 850,000 older adults and people with disabilities who are either ineligible for Medicaid services in their homes or communities, or have been on waiting list for these services for as long as five or more years."
Also speaking was U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton - D-Phoenix - who is on several key subcommittees that will make recommendations to the full House on parts of the Family Plan.
"In this plan, Arizona home- and community-based infrastructure would receive $631 million over 10 years for 13,000 direct-care jobs," said Stanton. "We're going to need a lot more than that because of the aging of our community. That is a good place to start."
Stanton added the Biden plan also includes universal pre-kindergarten, early-childhood programs for three- and four-year olds, tuition-free community college, and would make the federal Child Tax Credit permanent. And it aims to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
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