PA Homecare Association CEO Vicki Hoak
World-renowned biologist Leroy Hood once said “If you focus on the smallest details, you never get the big picture right.”
When focusing on the big picture of long-term care in Pennsylvania, we must remember one basic premise: most senior care is provided and/or paid for by families, not Medicaid or the Lottery.
In Pennsylvania, families provide nearly $20 billion worth of care in order to have their elderly parent or grandparent remain at home.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 65 percent of seniors rely on families for their care, and another 30 percent supplement with paid care — many times because they are still in the workforce.
Yet, Gov. Tom Wolf recently proposed a sales tax for homecare services, including them in the same category as amusement park admission, dry cleaning, and RV parks — all luxury items and a stark contrast to families struggling to pay for critically important homecare, which many times is a lifeline to thousands of older Pennsylvanians who just want to stay at home as they age.
Imposing a sales tax on homecare services will hurt our frailest seniors and their family caregivers who work diligently to keep them at home and out of more costly institutional care.
Here’s how this tax would impact Pennsylvania families: An average family currently pays for 40 hours of homecare at $22 per hour each week to keep their elder parent at home and to allow the adult daughter to continue to work outside the home.
Under this proposed tax, this family would now pay an additional $58 in sales tax each week, or an additional $232 each month.
A tax on vital in-home services that enable our seniors to remain as independent as possible at home would be one more barrier to these family caregivers who are trying to do the right thing by enabling their parents to age at home.
Wolf’s recent proposal to expand home and community-based waiver services to an additional 5,500 consumers and streamline the waiver enrollment and service plan development process show his commitment to the big picture.
Yet, a sales tax on homecare is one detail that is out of focus. Family caregivers are the backbone of our long-term care system, and if this tax is imposed, many of these families will not be able to financially support such an increase.
Adding another $2,800 each year to the cost of homecare may push people into nursing homes, where Medicaid must pick up the bill.
We believe Wolf has the very best intentions to serve our seniors, and appreciate the efforts he has made. However, the proposed sales tax on homecare will hurt our seniors and their dedicated family caregivers far more than it will help the state’s economy.