The Biden Administration’s COVID-19 relief law, also known as the American Rescue Plan, plans to extend an estimated $12.7 billion in funding for home and community-based care.
The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly exposed the vulnerabilities of nursing home residents. They accounted for one-third of COVID-19 deaths, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project, but only 1% of the U.S. lives in long-term care facilities.
“Clearly COVID demonstrated that living in an institution puts you at higher risk for infection and deaths,” said Martha Roherty, executive director of Advancing States, which represents agencies on aging and disability. “If we want seniors and people with disabilities to have a higher quality of life, that is not going to be in a nursing facility.”
As the nightmare of the pandemic is clear in our memory, more people are wanting to move away from institutionalizing disabled and elderly people. This shift aims to support overwhelmed families taking care of disabled and elderly loved ones.
“There are so many people, when they get older, they are forced to go into institutions,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingwell of Michigan. “People should not have to go into a long-term care setting where they are in greater danger of contracting disease and they are more isolated.”
The current healthcare plan, Medicaid, was originally intended to support the poor and severely disabled but has grown to cover about 1 in 5 Americans. Although qualifying is a long and arduous process, Americans have been leaning very heavily on its support.
There are concerns that this push may have a fleeting impact, and politicians are prompting calls for a more permanent legislation.