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ASHA Legislative / Regulatory Policy Agenda

(For more detailed information about these issues, ASHA Members can go to the Members Area section of the website)

Solutions to Mitigate Senior Living Workforce Shortages

ASHA continues to advocate for meaningful immigration reform to mitigate the workforce shortage in the senior living industry. Several significant pieces of legislation backed by ASHA have been introduced in the 118th Congress. While these efforts face significant headwinds, there is much agreement that the process is broken, and immigration reform is needed.

  • Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023 – (S. 255 / H.R. 1325). Sponsors: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Senator Angus King (I-ME). This legislation reduces the current 180-day waiting period for work eligibility to 30 days, allowing an asylum seeker to apply for authorization as soon as their claim is filed.
  • The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act – (H.R.3734) Sponsors: Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX). This bipartisan bill offers a new visa category for essential workers, i.e., those who can fill positions that are non-farmwork, non-seasonal and do not require a college degree including caregivers, housekeepers, dining staff.
  • Dignity for Immigrants while Guarding our Nation to Ignite and Deliver the American Dream Act of 2023 (DIGNITY Act) – (H.R. 3599) This bill consists of four core principles: (1) stopping illegal immigration; (2) providing a dignified solution for undocumented immigrants living in America; (3) strengthening the American workforce and economy; and (4) ensuring the United States remains prosperous and competitive in the future.

With 10 million positions unfilled in this country, the strength of the economy relies on bringing in foreign workers. Further, immigration strengthens the solvency of the Social Security system by boosting the number of new workers without immediately adding more new beneficiaries.

Click Here for ASHA’s Policy Brief on Immigration Reform

Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care

S. 495/H.R. 1815, the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act creates a pilot program to assess the effectiveness of offering veterans the opportunity to reside in an assisted living community to access their care needs. Much like the overall population, the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population are those over the age of 85, which currently stands at around 1.3 million. The number of veterans 85 or older that are eligible for nursing home care provided by the Veterans Administration will increase nearly 535% over the next 20 years (from 61,000 to 387,000), according to the VA. This pilot program offers new thinking on how to serve this population efficiently, compassionately and with demonstrable cost savings.

The Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act enjoys bi-partisan support in Congress, is supported by the VA, several veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) and represents a commonsense approach to securing greater options for long-term care supportive services.

Click Here for ASHA’s Policy Brief on the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act

The Value Proposition of Senior Living

The federal government does not regulate assisted living like nursing homes. However, the industry is highly and appropriately regulated at the state level where rigorous oversight is provided and laws are updated as needed or desired. Strict licensing and practice requirements are imposed on every community and while state variations exist, they generally all address the core elements of operation and practice. State regulation of assisted living and memory care allows for a more responsive process when policymakers, industry, consumers, and other stakeholders call for a change in rules.

Senior living owners/operators serve a wide range of older adults, from those who require little assistance to those who require assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, dressing and eating, as well as those with significant needs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and age-related dementia. These providers and team members are on the front lines when it comes to serving frail seniors providing 24/7 expert care, supportive services, dining, housekeeping, and myriad activities that combat loneliness and isolation and promote social and intellectual engagement. Senior living communities strive to help residents feel like they are “home.”

Senior living offers a dedicated team of compassionate people to create a caring and engaging environment where residents can live their best lives in a community-based setting where they can safely “age in place” with dignity and independence. The demand for this community setting is growing, the benefits are many, and the average national costs are among the lowest of Long-Term Care Services (LTCSS) options (Home Care/Nursing Homes/Assisted Living).

The aging demographics of this country where people are living longer and with more chronic conditions, present a compelling case for policymakers to recognize the benefits of senior living as they look to address the issues of workforce shortages, value-based care, long term care financing, and creating overall better outcomes for older adults.

Click Here for ASHA’s Policy Brief on the Value Proposition of Senior Living

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