WASHINGTON-- AARP strongly supports new bipartisan legislation, the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act, which would make it easier for family caregivers to navigate key financial and health care programs. The bill was introduced today by Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and is co-sponsored by Senators Kyrsten Sinema, (I-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
Currently, more than 48 million family caregivers in the U.S. help take care of loved ones. According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving’s Caregiving in the U.S. report, caregivers provide support ranging from selecting the best providers; coordinating multiple health and long-term care providers; navigating the care system; advocating with providers, community services, and government agencies; and managing medications, complex medical tasks, meals, finances, and more.
Most caregivers say additional information and support for managing these needs is essential:
· One in four family caregivers (25%) report they want help figuring out forms, paperwork, and eligibility for services;
· 26% say it is difficult to coordinate care across various providers and services; and
· While most (61%) work full- or part-time, and some also care for children, family caregivers spend almost 24 hours a week caring for a loved one on average.
The bill would reduce family caregivers’ administrative challenges by requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration to take actions to simplify and streamline policies and procedures that improve customer service for family caregivers and individuals covered by or filing for Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and Social Security. The agencies must conduct a review and seek input from family caregivers prior to taking actions that would improve their experiences coordinating care for their loved ones.
“Family caregivers are the backbone of our nation’s long-term care system, and they are overwhelmed with their responsibilities and time spent managing their loved one’s care,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond. “The Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act could help save family caregivers valuable time and reduce their stress by making it easier to navigate resources, eligibility, benefits, and health systems when providing care. AARP thanks Senators Markey, Capito, Sinema, Collins, Casey, and Tillis for working together on this and urges Congress to swiftly pass this important bipartisan legislation.”
Family caregivers across the U.S. provide 36 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at an estimated $600 billion annually. AARP research shows a majority of voters, 78%, are either a current, past, or future family caregiver. Over 70% of voters across the political spectrum say they would be more likely to support a candidate who backed proposals to support family caregivers, such as a tax credit, paid family leave, and more support and respite services.
AARP is building a movement to fight for commonsense solutions that will save family caregivers time and money and provide them with more support. Already 300,000 Americans have raised their hands to join the fight. For more information, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.