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Meet the children who Joe Manchin is sacrificing on his altar of bipartisanship

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It’s easy for Democrats to become frustrated at the “look at me” antics of Joe Manchin, prima donna senator from West Virginia, as he forces the Biden administration to indulge in a pointless exercise of jumping through hoops for Senate Republicans in hopes of achieving some imaginary bipartisan agreement on the president’s infrastructure bill. But there is a group of Americans who have a far more existential stake in ending Manchin’s self-serving behavior. They are the parents of children with complex disabilities, for whom passage of the infrastructure legislation may mean the difference between life and death.

As reported by The New York Times, part of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic was a sudden shortage in home health care professionals, specifically a drastic collapse in the number of home care nurses, including those who had assisted hundreds of thousands of American parents in caring for children with disabilities.

Faced with dire, existential issues of their own as the result of the pandemic, many of these low-paid nurses found other, better-paying jobs at hospitals or simply dropped out of the profession altogether. Because theirs is a comparatively thankless field of work, with grueling hours, highly variable working conditions (in addition to dismal pay), and few, if any, benefits, these nurses are not exactly flocking back to work.

The shortage of home nursing care was already part of an alarming trend, particularly for the aging Baby Boomer demographic, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; the loss of these caregivers as occasioned by the pandemic is expected to push that shortage to crisis levels in the coming years.

From The Times:

“This is as bad as it’s ever been,” said Liz Wise, who works for the nationwide nonprofit Bayada Home Health Care, helping transition young patients from hospitals to homes. Her own daughter needed home-care nursing, so she feels it keenly when patients can’t get the coverage they need. “Disappointing families is enough to keep me up at night.”

A significant portion of the infrastructure legislation now being held hostage by Sen. Manchin’s performative intransigence—specifically, $400 billion over the next 10 years—is dedicated to funding and expanding home health care programs. Not coincidentally, it is these provisions that Republicans adamantly refuse to agree to, claiming that home health care should not be considered part of the nation’s infrastructure, which they consider limited to physical things such as roads, bridges and........

© Daily Kos

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