Alexandria, Va. – As the volume of adults aged 65 and better grows daily, Members of Congress and the U.S. Senate are advancing two pieces of legislation that will aid older adults and the organizations that care for them. One addresses hiring and training staff; the other addresses the medical tax deduction.
Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI), a premier senior living and healthcare services organization serving more than 1,300 older adults daily in Northern Virginia, added its voice of support to both pieces of legislation.
Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act
On Dec. 5, 2019, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act to help organizations caring for aging adults to better screen, hire and retain quality staff. The Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act would provide nursing home operators with access to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) – an existing national criminal background check system. Access to this system would give employers greater ability to screen and vet potential employees to ensure they do not have a history that would endanger the seniors under their care. Currently, senior living care providers are not authorized to use the NPDB and instead must rely on state-level criminal background checks that can often omit key details about an employee’s background.
“Anyone with a loved one in a senior living facility should have the peace of mind of knowing that they are receiving care from compassionate, dependable and well-qualified staff as they live out their golden years,” said Sen. Warner in a release issued when the legislation was introduced. “This bipartisan legislation will help provide these facilities with the tools they need to hire experienced staff and to continue to meet the demands of high quality care without losing staffing levels.”
In-House Training Improvements
Additionally, the bipartisan legislation will amend overly restrictive regulations that prohibit certain senior living organizations from conducting training programs for in-house Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) – individuals who assist patients with their daily activities – for a two-year period after a facility is found to have deficiencies. High quality care and meeting the nation’s need for long-term care workers were key themes Sen. Warner discussed at a recent Town Hall at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads.
“At a time where we need more individuals to choose the important and meaningful work of service to older adults throughout this country, limiting the ability to train future generations of care workers is not the answer,” said Rob Liebreich, President and CEO, GHI. “This legislation introduced by Senators Warner and Scott also opens up the door to more and better screening of job candidates at a time when senior living and healthcare organizations need to recruit more and more talent to serve the growing number of older adults.”
Preserving Medical Deductions
GHI also is supporting the effort led by LeadingAge, The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living and more than 50 organizations to urge senators and members of Congress to make permanent the 7.5% threshold for the medical expense tax deduction before the end of 2019. The 7.5% threshold enables people to deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their incomes from their taxes. Without passage of House Resolution 2073 and Senate Bill 110, called the Medical Expense Savings Act, the deduction threshold will be 10%.
Americans with high healthcare costs have been able to deduct medical expenses from their taxes for more than 75 years, according to the organizations. Many of those taking the deduction are older adults who use it to help offset the costs of assisted living, nursing homes and other long-term care expenses. The AARP puts the number of people aged 65 or more years who use the deduction at more than 1.7 million nationwide.
“Americans aged 85 or more years spend an average of $10,000 out-of-pocket for health care needs, according to AARP,” said Liebreich. “The absolute wrong time to raise taxes on these citizens is when they are ill or in need of long-term care and on a fixed income.”
The text of the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act is available here.