Government funding of HCBS would give economic ‘boost,’ Moody’s report argues

*Posted from McKnight’s Senior Living

An economic report from bond rating company Moody’s calls for increased government funding of home-and-community-based services.

Economists Mark Zandi and Bernardo Yaros wrote in a report for Moody Analytics  that expanding HCBS as proposed through the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would provide higher-quality care for seniors and better wages for caregivers, lifting the U.S. economy.

“The economy will receive an immediate boost from this increased government spending along with a lift in long-term growth from higher labor force participation, particularly by lower-income females who are currently most likely to provide home care,” the authors explained.

The report laid out the argument that there are currently 40 million unpaid caregivers, mostly women, who are either being sidelined by their caregiving responsibilities or are being forced to work part time. That is having a massive impact on the economy that will only get worse as the nation’s 70 million baby boomers age and demand for caregivers skyrockets.

The Biden administration’s Build Back Better initiative would pump an estimated $400 billion into HCBS through higher wages and benefits for caregivers and expand services to seniors, the report said. The economists said allowing unpaid family caregivers to return to the workforce full time and providing a pay bump to care providers would increase the U.S. gross domestic product  0.2% by 2031 and create approximately 300,000 jobs.

Zandi and Yaros also pointed out the U.S. is badly trailing other industrialized countries when it comes to prime-age women participating in the labor force. The U.S. is currently ranked 30 among 36 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They cautioned that without government support of HCBS, the care economy could buckle, rippling through the broader U.S. economy.

“Without this support, the economy’s long-term growth prospects will be diminished. That is because many who could otherwise take jobs — but instead must provide care to the elderly and disabled — will be unable to do so,” the economists concluded.

Worker rally

In related news, home care workers and advocates for home-and-community-based services rallied on Capitol Hill Wednesday demanding Congress pass the massive care economy legislation.

“Home care workers like me have put our lives on the line to care for people throughout the pandemic,” North Carolina home care worker Deborah McAllister said.  “And long before COVID-19, we’ve always shown up to care for seniors and people with disabilities, even on poverty wages and few benefits.”

The National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Service Employees International Union were among the groups leading the protest. The SEIU released a poll earlier this week that found 80% of one thousand Americans surveyed supported federal investment in the care economy.