Caregiver reimbursement caps lifted for first time in nearly 30 years
Each year, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP) serves hundreds of caregivers of older adults and adults with disabilities, as well as relative caregivers of children. CSP provides education, assistance with planning, and financial reimbursement for expenses related to caregiving.
Yet, as the need for caregiver financial assistance continues to rise, limits to how much CSPs in Pennsylvania could reimburse any one caregiver remained stagnant since 1993. That was until June 2021, when House Bill 464 (Act 20 of 2021) was signed into law aligning state CSPs with the national CSP, as defined through the Older Americans Act, and also giving the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) authority to lift the monthly and lifetime housing reimbursement limits for participants.
“Financial reimbursements are so important, especially in helping caregivers manage the needs of their loved one’s care in the community as an alternative to nursing home placement,” says PCA director of CSP Cheryl Clark. Reimbursements also “provide funds to hire a respite worker to give caregivers a break and relief from their responsibilities, which is so often needed.”
Prior to the bill, monthly reimbursements for CSP participants were capped between $200-$500 with a lifetime housing reimbursement limit of $2,000. Last month, PDA passed down guidance that will allow CSPs to now provide up to $600 in monthly reimbursements with a lifetime housing reimbursement cap at $5,000.
Clark says the legislation came at a very needed time, as the effects of the pandemic have continued to contribute to the financial burden on caregivers, especially as many are often left to choose between caregiving and employment.
“Many [caregivers] may be forced to leave work early or go part time to care, limiting access to financial resources,” Clark says. “Increasing reimbursement amounts will allow caregivers to hire extra help when needed and minimize other expenses, such purchasing supplies or paying for adult day centers, lessening the financial impact.”
Through PCA’s program, financial assistance is available to caregivers of older adults and individuals with disabilities to reimburse them for caregiving services and supplies, including medical supplies; home modifications; personal care; adult day care; and emotional, legal and financial counseling.
For older adults who are raising relative children, financial reimbursements can be issued for respite or child care; financial, legal and supportive counseling; day care, summer camp and other recreational activities; educational expenses, tutoring and after-school programs; infant formula and baby food; and adaptive modifications and assistive devices. Financial support is provided on a sliding scale based on the income of the household where the care recipient resides.
“The program has provided assistance to older relatives who are raising children for some time, not necessarily grandparents only,” Clark says. “It is important that we raise awareness in our communities that the program can be used by all types of older relatives who are raising children. It is very important to get the message out to older adult caregivers that help is available.”
To enroll in PCA’s Caregiver Support Program (CSP), please contact Cheryl Clark at 215-765-9000, ext. 5300 or email cheryl.clark@pcaCares.org. More information about CSP can be found at pcaCares.org/caregivers.