Build Back Better: Higher pay for direct care workers, better care for Iowans

December 2, 2021 News Conference

I’m Senator Pam Jochum from Dubuque. I want to talk a little bit today, about Build Back Better and investing in Iowa’s direct care workers. It’s one of many ways that Build Back Better will improve Iowa’s healthcare system.

It’s long past time to show how much they are valued as essential health care workers. As many of you know that I had an adult child, a daughter, Sarah, who had intellectual disabilities I know firsthand how important the direct care workforce is in our state.

Hiring enough direct care workers has been and continues to be one of Iowa’s biggest health care challenges.

That’s because all over Iowa, from cities to rural communities we are struggling to hire and retain enough direct care workers to meet the needs of the people who live there. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a statewide healthcare issue. We simply do not have enough skilled workers, and those workers we do have, we are having a hard time retaining them. Iowa’s growing shortage of health care workers has been talked about for years at the statehouse.

A shortage of workers means that too many adults and children with disabilities lose their independence. Just yesterday a mom called whose son needs 24/7 care. He lives at home and needs direct care workers to come to their home while she works. She cannot find the workers and cannot work. She’s burned through her savings account and maxed out her credit cards. She needs to work.

This is just simply wrong.

Build Back Better is going to provide Iowa with an opportunity to finally begin to solve this long-standing problem if we chose to act. It will help us with the critical funding that is needed to improve the skills and the pay of Iowa’s direct care workers.

I want to thank Congresswoman Cindy Axne for helping to pass Build Back Better in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I urge all Iowans to press Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to support BBB in the U.S. Senate.

Senators Grassley and Ernst need to know that Build Back Better will improve the care of our aging parents in the local nursing home, it will help to maintain the independence of our neighbors and friends with a disability, it will honor the service of our Veterans, with a disability, and it will raise the pay of hardworking direct care workers who are part of the very backbone of our health system and our economy.

To take a line from “Field of Dreams”—If you pay them, they will come.