Senate HELP Committee Approves Legislation Supporting Family Caregivers
November 19, 2015 10:08 AM
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) on Wednesday, November 18, held a markup and approved the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1719). The legislation, introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) along with eight other bipartisan cosponsors, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to launch a National Family Caregiving Strategy with the goal of developing and sustaining a “national strategy to support family caregivers.”
In a letter signed by a coalition of organizations earlier this year, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) thanked the Senators for their “bipartisan leadership” and expressed its commitment to working to pass the legislation. “Family caregivers are the backbone of services and supports in this country,” NAHC and the other organization stated in the letter. “They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities. By supporting family caregivers, we can help people live at home where they want to be, helping to delay or prevent more costly care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.”
Recent estimates show about 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided approximately 37 billion hours of care to adults in 2013, with an estimated economic value of about $470 billion in 2013, up from approximately $450 billion in 2009.
The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would:
Implement the federal Commission on Long-Term Care’s bipartisan recommendation that Congress require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers.
Create an advisory body to bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors to advise and make recommendations.
Identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and others can take to recognize and support family caregivers and be updated annually.
Senator Collins released a statement praising the Committee’s passage of the legislation. “November is National Family Caregivers Month and an important time to recognize that our family caregivers are an invaluable resource to our aging society. As our aging population continues to grow and the need for round-the-clock care for our seniors increases, uncompensated family caregivers will continue to be the most important source of support for people who need long-term care,” said Senator Collins.
“At some point most of us will likely be either family caregivers or someone who needs one,” Senator Collins added. “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 similarly applauded the Committee’s vote to move this “critical” legislation forward. “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,” Senator Baldwin said. “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.”
Senator Baldwin said the legislation 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.”
Similar legislation (H.R. 3099) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Diane Black (R-TN).
NAHC Reportwill continue to provide updates regarding the status of this legislation.