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Biden’s plan to invest $400 billion to make long-term care cheaper is really popular

The high costs of long-term care impacts everyone. Democrats and Republican voters want Biden to do something about it.

Home Health Aide
A home health care aide steadies her client inside his home in Peabody, Massachusetts, on January 25, 2021.
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A $400 billion investment into senior care and long-term caregiving in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan may not fall into a traditional definition of “infrastructure,” but it’s one of the most popular provisions in the plan among Democratic and Republican voters alike, according to new polling from Vox and Data for Progress.

The new poll, which surveyed 1,217 likely voters about various provisions of Biden’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and has a 3 percentage point margin of error, showed that Biden’s investment to improve and lower the cost of long-term care for seniors and those with disabilities has broad support — 73 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat backed the proposal.

This provision enjoys strong support from voters across parties: 88 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 55 percent of Republicans support the idea.

A partisan debate over what exactly constitutes infrastructure is underway in Congress, with Republicans sticking to a more traditional definition of roads, bridges, airports, and broadband. But the findings of the Vox and Data for Progress poll show that some provisions like increased funding to make long-term care more affordable are popular with voters across party lines.

Specifically, Biden’s plan calls for expanding long-term care under Medicaid, increasing access to home and community-based services, and giving more people the chance to receive care at home. The Biden administration’s plan aims to increase the quality of caregiving jobs and offer home health workers more chances to unionize and increase their wages.

This wide swath of support underscores that the high cost of long-term care impacts many families across the country. With a large, aging population of baby boomers and expensive long-term care that doesn’t get covered by insurance, many families in the United States are scrambling to either pay for care or care for their loved ones themselves. And caregivers — many of whom are Black and brown women — are often underpaid and work long hours caring for patients.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents many long-term care workers and home health aides, told Vox she sees Biden including caregiving in a wide-ranging infrastructure and jobs plan as a potential “sea change” for the profession, and for patients.

Biden “is putting a stake in the ground about how we need as a nation to view caregiving as [being as] valuable as building roads and bridges,” Henry told Vox in a recent interview.

Other provisions of Biden’s infrastructure and jobs are popular across parties

Overall, the American Jobs Plan enjoys broad support among likely voters, according to the Vox and Data for Progress poll.

Sixty-eight percent of all likely voters strongly or somewhat support the American Jobs Plan, compared to 25 percent who strongly or somewhat oppose it. Support for the bill is very strong among Democrats and independent voters; 88 percent of Democrats support the plan, and 69 percent of independents support it. Republican voters are more evenly split, with 41 percent supporting the plan and 50 percent opposing it.

While the bulk of Biden’s plan is focused on rebuilding America’s roads and bridges, increasing manufacturing, and installing broadband, there are a number of other popular provisions in the plan, the polling found.

For instance, Biden’s proposal to eliminate all lead pipes and service lines from the nation’s drinking water systems is supported by 74 percent of all likely voters, and draws support from voters across party lines.

Eighty-seven percent of Democrats support removing lead pipes from water systems, as do 74 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans. Cities and homes built before 1986 are most likely to have lead pipes, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. An estimated 9.2 million homes are serviced with lead pipes, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, and lead seeping into water from corroded pipes can be especially harmful to children’s health.

In addition to supporting removing lead pipes from drinking water, the majority of voters also support Biden investing $100 billion into the US power sector to modernize the electric grid and put the US on a path to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

But unlike the long-term care and lead pipe proposals, support for this provision is more divided along partisan lines. It’s supported by 84 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents, while a majority of Republicans oppose it.

Even though the majority of Republican voters oppose a clean electricity standard, they feel differently about electrifying the US Postal Service fleet, which is another provision in Biden’s American Jobs Plan to help decarbonize the federal government’s vehicle fleets.

Eighty percent of Democrats support that provision, as do 62 percent of independents and 56 percent of Republicans.

The American Jobs Plan still has several weeks before lawmakers turn it into legislative text, and more months before it could be passed through the House and Senate. But several of the president’s provisions that may not be considered “traditional” infrastructure by congressional Republicans still have broad support from Republican voters across the country.

Correction, April 16, 2021: Seventy-four percent of all likely voters polled said they support Biden’s proposal to eliminate all lead pipes and service lines from the nation’s drinking water systems. An earlier version of this article misstated that number.