How a Joe Biden Presidency Could Impact Your Home Care Agency

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Here’s what we know. 

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While legal battles continue and several states are still certifying their votes, it seems likely that Joe Biden has secured the win as the 2020 presidential candidate with 290 electoral votes, according to the Associated Press.

No matter your political leaning, it’s important to understand what a new administration could mean for your home care agency.

The plans of the Biden administration seem to be a mixed bag for home care agencies. There are both seemingly good and bad changes on the horizon – which could affect agencies differently across the nation.

Here are some of the things you can anticipate during the next four years.

New precautions as a result of COVID-19

Within a short amount of time after receiving the nomination as the next presidential candidate, the Biden administration released information regarding its highest priorities upon entering office. One of the top areas of concern was surrounding COVID-19. Several key parts of the plan involve direct care workers, including private duty caregivers.

With COVID-19 on the radar for a long time to come, the team created the Biden-Harris Plan to Beat COVID-19, noting “that the federal government must act swiftly and aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders, and caregivers essential to help us face this challenge.”

As one of the seven points they want to tackle, PPE has continually been noted as a major area of concern. Under this plan, Biden wants to give states the necessary access to any supplies that they may be lacking. It’s easier said than done; however, there are a few key ways they plan on doing so:

  • Using the Defense Production Act to scale up the production of face masks, shields, and other PPE so that the national supply exceeds demand – especially within vulnerable population areas.

  • Becoming self-sufficient in creating new PPE within the U.S. so we don’t have to outsource or rely on other countries to meet our needs. This will lead to a quicker, more abundant supply for home care agencies.

  • Create a “restart package” which will help small businesses cover the cost of necessary expenses to operate safely, like PPE and plexiglass.

In addition to PPE, the Biden administration plans to create a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard. This would be primarily used to help American citizens gauge the level of transmission in their zip codes in real-time. Not only could the tool be beneficial for home care agencies to understand how COVID -19 is trending in their local area, but it helps them to assess if they should be taking any extra precautions with their high-risk patients.

While there’s no easy pass to stopping the pandemic outright, putting more focus on some of the pandemic pain points (like PPE and transmission info)  will be beneficial for the senior population and potentially allow home care agencies to return to normal life sooner.

Read more about the Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19 here.

A minimum wage increase to $15 an hour

As you’re probably already well aware, Biden has pledged to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. With some home care agencies offering wages much lower than the proposed new minimum, it’s likely this could cause some financial burdens.

Although this change won’t happen overnight, and there are hurdles to transcend before it’s even a possibility, it’s still important to address how it could affect home care agencies.

Like many of the possible changes under a Biden administration, this change is a mixed bag; it creates hopeful prospects for some direct care workers while creating the potential for significant challenges among home care agencies.

After talking with thousands of caregivers across the country, one of the most prominent complaints that we heard was in regard to the low wages they were receiving. They generally wanted more pay, both as a means of recognition and to better provide for themselves.

It’s important to note that because of the low wages caregivers are facing, about 18% or 1 out of every 6 caregivers are currently living below the poverty line. Biden’s goal with this change is to relieve any stress that comes with lack of pay and support low-income families and individuals more intentionally. While it will help the caregivers immensely, it could cause some problems for home care agencies – especially if they’re already struggling at their current pay rate.

However, a minimum wage increase of $15 an hour can take a drastic toll on business finances. A pay increase of several dollars, spread across an entire agency, is a significant increase in costs. For some agencies, it might just mean moving funds around or allocating from different sources. For others, it might mean increasing client rates or adjusting the client-to-caregiver ratio.

The fight for a $15 minimum wage has gone on for years and some areas have already adapted; however, Biden’s election might accelerate the movement. It’s also important to remember that while this minimum wage is not already legislated, this has already become the practical reality for some home care agencies since employment competitors like Amazon and Target have switched to a $15 minimum.

Increased resources to make caregiving a viable source of income for more caregivers

The growing caregiver shortage has been on the national radar in recent years, and Biden’s proposed policies include a plan to use federal funding to help combat the problem.

While there are various forms this could take, there’s likely to be some support across the board that could benefit home care agencies.

To begin this process, the plan is to provide states, tribal, and local governments with the necessary financial means to keep workers employed – especially for vital public services like home care.

As part of his $775 billion plan, Biden says he wants to see upward of 3 million new caregiving and education jobs. In his words:

Joe Biden

Public funding programs are one of the many ways that they plan to help home care agencies hire the staff they need to operate at their best.

Biden’s plan for increasing hiring within the home care industry is important to keep people off unemployment and out of other jobs outside the industry; while some details remain unclear, it sets aside funding for businesses providing in-home care.

Not only does the Biden administration see a need for improving the home care industry as a whole by increasing hiring efforts, they also want to create a career ladder for these caregivers.

To help caregivers out a little bit more, the administration also wants caregivers to receive access to health care through their agencies or with a proposed public option insurance program. According to the Courier News, they’d include “federally provided paid family leave, medical leave for up to 12 weeks, seven days of paid sick leave, and affordable child care for their own children would also be included for caregivers under Biden’s plan.”

Overall, the goal with this plan is to incentivize more caregivers to work in the home care industry and provide them access to very necessary benefits like health care.

Implementation of a new tax plan

One of the hot topics with Biden’s policies is his tax plan, which some have seen as controversial. While there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it, here are some things to keep in mind about how it could affect your home care agency.

  • Taxes will likely increase, but only for those making over $400,000 a year.

  • The corporate tax rate could increase from 21 to 28 percent, which may have a significant impact on the industry at a corporate level.

  • It’s likely that Republicans will retain control of the Senate; with this being the case, it’s highly unlikely that Biden’s proposed tax plan come to fruition anyway.

An increase in funding for federally funded payer sources

One of the many steps that Biden wants to take in favor of the public is to make it easier for the aging population and those with disabilities to receive more affordable access to post-acute care. His  website states:

“Approximately 800,000 people are on the waitlist for home and community care under Medicaid. It can take as many as five years for these individuals to get the services they badly need. Biden will increase Medicaid funding to states, the District of Columbia, and outlying territories to pay for the full cost of ensuring these 800,000 individuals and families receive long-term services and supports in the most appropriate setting, with the support of qualified care providers.”

Increases in funding to federal programs are often slow-moving and complicated, so it’s hard to know exactly how this will play out; that said, it’s likely that the coming years will bring a strong increase in funding through Medicaid that opens doors for agencies relying on it as a primary payer source.

The next four years

It’s hard to anticipate exactly how a new president will change office over the many years to come, but based on what we’ve heard and researched, these are some of the biggest impacts that Joe Biden may have – both, the good and the bad.

It’s certainly an interesting time to be navigating the political world. While as much as we wish we could predict the future, we can’t – so, with the foreseen changes ahead, it’s important for every agency to be willing to adapt to change as it comes.

On that note, we hope this helps you to see things in a new light. Politics can be a stressful endeavor to say the least, especially when your business is in its hands. We truly hope that this shined some light on what’s next for home care.

What’s your take on how Joe Biden’s election will impact home care?  Let us know in the comments.

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