Senators Introduce Legislation to Develop National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers
July 21, 2015 09:41 AM
US Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently introduced legislation to establish a national plan to support family caregivers. The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1719) would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to launch a National Family Caregiving Project with the goal of developing and sustaining a “national strategy to support family caregivers.”
In announcing the legislation, Senator Collins addressed the growing importance of family caregivers and the need to better support them. “The American population is aging and the need for care and support is increasing. Family caregivers are an invaluable resource to our aging society. Chances are that, sooner or later, we will all either be family caregivers or someone who needs one,” said Senator Collins. “The RAISE Family Caregivers Act will launch a coordinated, national strategic plan that will help us to leverage our resources, promote innovation and promising practices, and provide our nation’s family caregivers with much-needed recognition and support.”
Senator Baldwin stated that improved support for caregivers will help ensure high quality care for those in need. “Family caregivers are integral to our long-term care system and our economy, but are too often over-looked as part of the care team for seniors and those with disabilities. If we are serious about ensuring that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care in their own homes, we must formally recognize and support family caregivers,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “This is why I am proud to introduce the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act to create a national strategy and plan to assist family caregivers.”
Senator Baldwin further stated that her personal experience caring for her grandmother has helped guide her work on this issue. “This effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caretaker as she grew older, and I will continue to work to ensure that everyone has access to the care and assistance they need and deserve.”
The legislation is based on a recommendation by the bipartisan Commission on Long-Term Care to develop a national plan to support family caregivers.
The role of family caregivers is crucial in caring for many seniors and disabled individuals in their homes. The most recent estimates show about 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided approximately 37 billion hours of care to adults in 2013, according to a report released by the AARP’s Public Policy Institute. The estimated economic value of the unpaid contributions of family caregivers was about $470 billion in 2013, up from approximately $450 billion in 2009.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) supports this bill, as well as other legislation providing greater support to family caregivers. NAHC also recommends that Congress pass legislation to expand respite care and provide tax incentives for family caregivers.
NAHC Report will continue to provide updates regarding the status of this legislation.