Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has unveiled a plan that seeks to make long-term care more affordable for seniors, increase wages for direct care workers and implement minimum staffing requirements for facilities. 

The plan — announced by Buttigieg Monday — proposes developing a long-term services and supports program that would help cover the costs of long-term care for seniors with a high level of need. Under the proposal, benefits would be worth $90 per day for as long as care is needed and would kick in after an income-related waiting period. 

It also calls for passing $15 minimum wage legislation for all employees, including direct care workers. 

“Lifting the wages of direct care workers will have a multiplier effect in low-income communities and communities of color in particular. We will also provide support for states to adjust Medicaid reimbursement rates accordingly,” he wrote. 

Additional proposals under the plan include: fully-funding the Adult Protective Services and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs; setting federal standards for residential care communities; requiring long-term care facilities to notify ombudsmen when an involuntary discharge or eviction takes place; and implementing minimum staffing ratios for long-term care facilities. 

“This will make it easy for nursing home residents, their family members and direct care workers themselves to see at a glance whether the facilities they live in are illegally short-staffed,” Buttigieg wrote. 

Implementing minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes has been a priority of two other lawmakers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) last week introduced legislation that would revise revise minimum staffing requirements for skilled nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Providers have heavily criticized this proposed legislation.