Two important pieces of legislation impacting caregivers were introduced
By PVA National Staff
In April, two important pieces of legislation impacting caregivers were introduced. First, the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019, S. 995/H.R. 2035, was introduced in the Senate on April 2 by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and in the House by Representatives by Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The bill authorizes $200 million over five years, extending the program through fiscal year 2024. The Lifespan Respite Care Program Act authorizes grants to states to implement statewide coordinated systems of respite services, provide planned and emergency respite services, recruit and train respite workers and volunteers, and provide information to family caregivers to help them access respite care.
To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have received Lifespan Respite grants from the Administration for Community Living to help improve access, quality and affordability of respite for family caregivers of children and adults. Extending the program for another five years will help ensure that states are able to sustain the work they have begun and still allow new states to receive grants.
Second, on April 3, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Supporting America’s Caregivers and Families Act, S. 1017, a bill that would increase funding, training, and support for the more than 34 million family caregivers in America. The bill would bolster the nation’s network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and enhance support for caregivers through skills building, resources and information, respite care, counseling, and other services.
The legislation enhances the ability of AAAs, under the authority of the Older Americans Act, to support caregivers and those they serve by doing the following:
- Increase funding: Increases the funding authorization level for the National Family Caregiver Support Program (Title III-E of the Older Americans Act) from $160.8 million to $360 million.
- Increase the use of caregiver assessments: Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a plan to increase the use of caregiver assessments, and creates a new technical assistance and resource center to share best practices. Eighty-four percent of caregivers report they could use additional information to provide care to loved ones. Increasing the use of caregiver assessments will help identify and address the health, financial, training, and skills that caregivers may need.
- Enhance Partnerships with Health Payers: Expand the ability of AAAs to receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid to provide case management and other services for seniors, which will increase funding for support services to seniors.
Additional information about the Durbin-Kaine bill can be found here.