California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said on Friday that she was concerned about the state’s current home-care system, which has a $1.6 trillion budget deficit.
The Senate passed a $20.6 billion bill earlier this year to create the system, known as the Home Care Care Act.
It also requires the state to spend $50 million a year on home-based services.
Feinstein, a California Democrat, called the legislation a step forward.
“The problem is, there’s not even a whole bunch of we can go do,” Feinstein told reporters on Friday.
“It’s just a bunch of money and they have to pay it, but they’re not paying it.”
House and Senate Democrats have proposed several changes to the bill, including a more streamlined system for home-Based Services, a plan that would require hospitals to hire a private company to provide home-related services to patients.
Feinstein’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Friday, but a spokesman for her office said the bill would “add billions of dollars in additional funding to the state budget.”
Feinstein said the $50-million-a-year requirement for hospitals to pay for home care services was “absolutely necessary,” as well as a “timely step to help save taxpayers money.”
The $20-billion bill includes $1 billion for a national “Home Care Care Account,” a federal program that provides subsidized home care for people with chronic illness, including cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS.
“What we need to do is not just put the money in, but actually to pay our workers to do it,” Feinstein said.
The California legislature passed a similar bill in 2013, but it expired in March, and lawmakers have not revisited the issue.
The federal government would provide $1,000 to each eligible Californian for every day they are working or attending school, a benefit that could reach millions of Californians.
“I do not believe the federal government is going to put a dollar in your pocket,” Feinstein warned.
The House of Representatives also passed a House version of the Home Caring Act on Thursday, and the Senate passed the bill this month.
Feinstein said she would support the House bill but said the Senate version would not.
“We’re in a lot of negotiations and we’re trying to figure out what we can all do together, and I’m very hopeful that both the Senate and the House can come together,” Feinstein, R-Calif., said.
She added, “I am very concerned about our system.”
Senate Democrats introduced their own version of home-Care Act last year, but their bill has been stuck in a procedural limbo, as Senate Republicans have blocked any attempt to amend it.
The bill would not include an expanded home-Caring Fund, a fund that would provide money for nursing home care and other services for low-income and elderly Californians who work in the private sector.