Invest in Home Care Programs in Delaware

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Keep Medically-Fragile Delawareans at Home ─ Invest in Home Care Programs

Last year (July 2021), Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill that will progressively raise the state standard minimum wage from $10.50 on January 1, 2022 an hour to $15 by January 1, 2025. However, the state has not yet addressed the impact this will have on funding for the Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) home care program.

DE’s MLTSS home care program is a state-funded program that keeps medically-fragile Delawarean adults and seniors stay at home with personal care services delivered by professional caregivers. This keeps DE’s most vulnerable populations safe at home, and keeps them out of costlier and potentially less safe settings like hospitals and nursing homes. This not only saves the State of Delaware money, but keeps residents where they want to be: at home amongst their loved ones.  

The state has not increased funding for the home care MLTSS program in more than ten years. As the current average personal care worker wage in DE is $12.19—which is lower than the national average of $13.02—providers have struggled for years to compete for an adequate caregiving workforce. Now—with the minimum wage increasing to $15 per hour, home care providers will struggle to compete with industries like big retail and fast food, who can afford to pass off increased labor costs to consumers. 

As wages for similar work in other settings—like in nursing homes and hospitals, and in other industries—like fast food and retail, have continued to rise, the home health care industry has struggled to recruit and retain enough personal care workers to keep up with demand. At the same time, demand itself has increased. According to data from the DE Department of Health, Medicaid authorizations for home care services have increased 42% from 2018-2020.

If wages for in-home caregivers continue to lag behind competitors and the State does not take action to increase home care funding concurrently with the minimum wage increase, then there will be even fewer aides in the caregiving field. As a result, it is DE’s most vulnerable residents that will suffer because they cannot access the care they need to stay at home. 

Solution:

DE adults living with disabilities and vulnerable seniors deserve to be able to live independently at home if they qualify and wish to do so. Advocates are asking the State to increase funding for the home care MLTSS program by 18% so that caregivers can make enough in wages to stay in the home care field, and so these populations can continue to access the care they need and deserve.