In response to concerns about potential future shortages of direct-care workers to provide hands-on long-term services and supports (LTSS), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report examining federal and state data available on the paid direct-care workforce (e.g., home health aides, psychiatric aides, nursing assistants, and personal care aides). While a variety of data exist on workforce population and wages, the GAO identified significant gaps in available information. In particular, GAO reports that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is responsible for monitoring the supply of and demand for health professionals, has not produced projections of this workforce or developed methods to address data limitations. Without improvements in HRSA data, including information on independent providers (who are employed directly by the individuals for whom they provide care) and attrition rates, the GAO believes that “the ability of policymakers and other stakeholders to develop appropriate workforce strategies to ensure a sufficient number of qualified direct care workers will continue to be hampered.”

The GAO therefore recommends that HRSA (1) take steps to produce projections of direct-care workforce supply and demand, and (2) develop methods to address data limitations. The Department of Health and Human Services concurred with the GAO recommendations, noting that HRSA is developing demand projections for certain direct-care workforce occupations and will explore development of additional information to provide comprehensive workforce trends.