NAHC Thanks Congressional Members for Establishing the Assisting Caregivers Today Caucus
April 22, 2015 08:05 AM
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), along with 68 other organizations supporting caregivers, sent a letter today thanking Members of Congress for their efforts in launching the bipartisan, bicameral Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus. As NAHC previously reported, four Members of Congress—Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator Michael Bennet, Representative Diane Black, and Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham—announced in March they had established the caucus.
In the letter sent today, NAHC and the other stakeholders praised the formation of the caucus, saying it would increase awareness about the important role of caregivers and help achieve solutions to the issues caregivers face.
“We are pleased the ACT Caucus will bring greater visibility to the value of and need to support family caregivers, as well as the challenges and opportunities individuals of all ages face as they seek to live independently,” wrote NAHC and the other organizations in the letter to the members of Congress. “We appreciate that the caucus aims to inform Members of the House and Senate about these issues, elevate the conversation, forge an environment and context conducive to reaching bipartisan solutions, and help create a sense of urgency to act. As a diverse group of stakeholders, we come together in support of the ACT Caucus, and encourage other policymakers, thought leaders, and Members of the House and Senate to support this caucus, as well. We look forward to collaborating with the ACT Caucus to raise awareness of family caregiving issues and work toward solutions.”
The letter also highlighted the important role of caregivers in providing services and support for older adults and persons with disabilities. The bulk of long-term care is provided by friends and family caregivers. More than 42 million family caregivers provide care for adults and another 3.9 million provide care for a child under the age of 18. The value of the unpaid services family caregivers provide is estimated to be worth more than $450 billion per year, which is more than twice the amount spent on formal home health care and nursing home services combined.
Furthermore, the letter stated that “caregivers need support as they face many emotional, physical, and financial challenges.” Caregivers face many responsibilities and demands associated with providing long-term care services to a relative or friend, including personal life limitations, work conflicts, emotional, financial, and family strains. According to the American Council of Life Insurers, a typical working family caregiver lost $109 per day in wages and health benefits due to the need to provide fulltime care at home.
In its 2015 Legislative Blueprint for Action, NAHC has proposed several recommendations to Congress regarding caregiver support. First, NAHC supports establishing a national, comprehensive long-term care program. Second, NAHC states that Congress should provide respite care services to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved of their responsibilities. Third, NAHC recommends Congress provide tax incentives for family members to provide care for a family member, in order to encourage the utilization of cost-effective home care services rather than costly institutional care.
You can read the full letter to the Members of Congress, and see the other organizations that signed letter, here.