Obama Immigration Move May Aid Eldercare Worker ShortageForbes.com
Advocates for the aging and their health care workers, particularly in the nursing home and long-term care industry, say President Obama’s move to grant work permits for up to five million undocumented immigrants and shield them from deportation may bring at least “some temporary relief’’ to seniors and people with disabilities.
If it weren’t for foreign-born health workers, older adults and people with disabilities wouldn’t be able to remain in their homes, “stay healthy and age with dignity,” said James Firman, chief executive officer of the National Council on Aging. Already, one-quarter of the nation’s home care workers are foreign-born, the council said.
As baby boomers age and Americans live longer, the need for health care workers is only going to become greater. At the same time, more Americans can pay for their health care under the Affordable Care Act and are therefore seeking treatment, putting even more demands on the health care labor force.
“As our population ages, the number of Americans needing long-term care will more than double from 12 to 27 million by 2050,” Firman said in a statement. “There is a severe projected shortage of direct care workers such as nurse aides and home care aides, that common sense immigration policy could help address.”
While advocates for older adults are okay with Obama’s executive order issued last week, they still want bipartisan legislation that creates a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Without it, they say, care for aging Americans is threatened.
“When one of eight home care workers live in fear of deportation, this hurts the families that rely on their care as well as the workers themselves,” said Sarita Gupta, co-director of Caring Access Generations who praised Obama’s action. “This executive order will bring peace of mind to millions of families, immigrant or not. But we need to keep pushing for a permanent solution – and one that includes all of those that have not been included – for a more stable workforce and a stronger economy.”