National Care Corps Act
By 2030, there will be more than 72 million older Americans, making up 19% of the total population. As they age, many of these seniors will require long-term supports and services, placing a huge burden on a fragmented system that is already struggling to provide and finance care for current seniors and individuals with disabilities who want to remain independent and receive services in their homes and communities.
At the same time, there simply aren't enough family caregivers to meet the growing need. In 2010, there were seven potential caregivers for every person over the age of 80. By 2030, that ratio is projected to drop by almost half, to 4:1. In the paid workforce, 4 million direct care workers provide long term supports and services to individuals in need already. But there, too, demand is projected to grow so that the U.S. will need to add at least 1 million more direct care workers over the next ten years.Currently, the vast majority of care is provided by family caregivers; 49 million Americans provide more than $520 billion in care to seniors and adults with disabilities every year. These caregivers fill a critical void, often because the lack of access to affordable services gives them no other choice. Many of those who need care cannot afford to pay for the services that would help them remain independent, but they have just enough money to be ineligible for Medicaid and the support services it would provide. Their family members pitch in to fill in the gaps where they can, keeping their loved ones out of high-cost nursing homes. These family caregivers often develop ailments of their own and need outside support to ensure that they can live healthy, productive lives and continue caring for their loved ones.
Meanwhile, our economy continues to feel the effects of the Great Recession. Many young people are unemployed or underemployed, while other workers are retraining for more in-demand fields.
These are national challenges that require a national solution: Care Corps.
National Care Corps Act
My bill would help to fill those gaps and provide opportunity for young adults and others seeking exposure to a new field. It would create a national Care Corps within the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services to help address caregiving needs and give volunteers the experience of working with seniors and individuals with disabilities across the country. Corps members would receive benefits necessary to sustain them during their volunteer period and would be eligible for tuition assistance upon completion of their assignment. The National Care Corps Act:
- Creates a national Care Corps, housed within the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Places Corps volunteers in communities where they will provide services that help seniors and individuals with disabilities remain independent.
- Provides volunteers with health insurance and other benefits during their time of service, along with an educational award that can be used to pay education costs or loans.
- Helps build the caregiving and health care work force needed to meet the demand for services.
- Creates an opportunity for intergenerational relationships.
Watch Rep. Lujan Grisham speak about Care Corps on the floor of the House of Representatives in the clip below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Care Corps program housed under the Administration for Community Living at HHS?
Care Corps is a national service organization, but its core mission is to provide services for elderly and disabled Americans. Officials at the Administration for Community Living know the needs of the elderly and disabled best, and are most qualified to carry out a program that offers those services. Just as the State Department is best qualified to place Peace Corps volunteers in their respective assignments, it makes sense for the ACL to place Corps volunteers in the communities where they identify a need.
How is it different from Americorps or other national service programs?
As part of the National Corporation for Community Service, Americorps is designed to meet a wide range of unmet human, educational, environmental, and public safety needs. While some of its volunteers are engaged in health-related work through Community HealthCorps, the focus of that program is to increase access to primary and preventive care services for the medically underserved. There is no national service program that exclusively offers services to help seniors and individuals with disabilities remain independent, as Care Corps would.
How much does it cost?
The bill has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, but the legislation authorizes appropriations of $350 million per year.
How many seniors will be served? How many volunteers can participate?
The number of seniors served and number of volunteers able to participate will depend on program funding levels. As a point of reference, in fiscal year 2013, the Peace Corps was funded at $356 million and placed 7,209 volunteers.
What will Care Corps volunteers do?
Corps members will provide services for which they are trained, in-person, and in support of the achievement and maintenance of the highest level of independent living for the individual served. They are not authorized to provide professional medical services, administrative support services, or institutional care. The bill gives the Director the authority to issue further guidance outlining the scope of services that may be provided by Corps members. That guidance would be subject to public notice and comment.
Where will Care Corps members go?
The Care Corps Director will assign members to local Care Corps programs, who will in turn place them with individuals in need. However, at least 20 percent of volunteers must be assigned to high need areas.
Who can administer local Care Corps programs?
A public or private nonprofit entity that is part of an aging network; a time-banking or volunteer organizing agency; or a state, county, or local government can apply for funding to operate local Care Corps programs.
What kind of support does the bill have? How likely is it that this bill will pass?
Care Corps has been endorsed by a broad range of organizations focused on the needs of caregivers, seniors and individuals with disabilities. My Congressional colleagues are becoming more aware and supportive of caregiving issues through a new ACT caucus that I co-founded. More than 50 members serve on this bicameral, bipartisan caucus that has sought funding to support caregivers. We are creating an environment for productive policy discussions so we can find practical ways to support caregivers and their families. I will continue to work with my colleagues to shore up our caregivers and ensure people with disabilities and seniors can live as independently as possible. And I will keep striving to pass Care Corps for the 44 million caregivers and their loved ones who need this support.
Where can I read the full text of the National Care Corps Act?
The complete text of the National Care Corps Act is available to read and download HERE.