Ambassador Susan E. Rice Remarks to Press on Executive Actions To Improve Care
As Prepared For Delivery:
Thanks, Kelly [Scully]. I’m here today to discuss a historic Executive Order that President Biden will sign tomorrow to increase access to high-quality child care and long-term care, and to support family caregivers.
The child care and long-term care systems in this country simply don’t work well.
High-quality care is costly to deliver. It’s labor-intensive. It requires skilled workers.
Yet, care workers—disproportionately women, women of color, and immigrants—are among the lowest-paid in the country despite working complex and demanding jobs.
At the same time, the price of care represents an outsized share of families’ budgets, with child care prices up 26% in the last decade and long-term care costs up nearly 40%.
This leads to hundreds of billions of dollars in lost wages each year and only heightens the obligation placed on the nation’s more than 50 million family caregivers.
President Biden has long made it a priority to help families and individuals access affordable, high-quality care.
His Budget calls for Congress to provide the resources necessary to shore-up child care, long-term care, and support for family caregivers.
But the President will not wait to take action to address our nation’s care crisis.
The Order President Biden will sign tomorrow represents the most comprehensive set of executive actions any President has ever taken to advance care. It marshals the full resources of the federal government to take immediate steps to improve the lives of Americans.
The Order includes more than 50 directives to nearly every agency to take action on fixing our child care and long-term care systems.
We will make child care and long-term care more affordable for working families.
Federal agencies, particularly those with new funds made possible through the President’s historic legislative achievements, will identify which programs can support child care and long-term care for workers delivering on federal projects. Those agencies will then consider requiring or encouraging applicants seeking federal job-creating funds to expand access to care for their workers.
We will improve access to home-based care for veterans.
The VA will update eligibility criteria for its family caregiver support program.
VA will also expand self-directed care options for veterans who need caregiving assistance, including expanding the Veteran Directed Care program to every VA Medical Center in the country.
We will enhance the job quality for long-term care workers.
HHS will issue rules to make Medicaid payments for home care services more transparent and to ensure a greater share of Medicaid funding reaches workers. HHS will also issue rules to strengthen the minimum staffing standards for nursing homes.
We will improve job quality for early educators, including by expanding access to mental health benefits for Head Start teachers and staff and increasing their pay over time.
We will provide greater support for family caregivers, including making it easier for them to access Medicare beneficiary information and other support as they prepare for their loved ones to be discharged from the hospital.
HHS will also pilot efforts to expand Medicare coverage for respite care— short-term help to give a primary family caregiver a break.
We will advance domestic workers’ rights.
The Department of Labor will publish a sample employment agreement for domestic child care and long-term care workers and their employers.
And we will ease the process to construct early childhood facilities for Tribes.
In sum, the challenges in the marketplace for care are deep—for families, workers, and those receiving care.
Too many families struggle to afford or access high-quality care. Too many care workers struggle to make a living doing this crucially important work.
We need to make serious investments on the scale of the President’s budget.
In the meantime, we will do everything we can to increase access to care and support care workers and family caregivers. This Executive Order will do just that.
Now, I will turn it over to Heather Boushey, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers and Chief Economist to the Invest in America Cabinet.