America’s Family Caregivers Can’t Wait: Tell Congress to Pass the RAISE Act Now Guest Post by Nancy A. LeaMond

Originally Posted http://www.blogAARP.org on 08/22/2016

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After Labor Day, when Congress returns from its summer recess, there will only be 33 working days left for the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of the year. That’s not a lot of time to address some of our nation’s biggest challenges. One item awaiting action that should be an immediate priority is the RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers Act.  This bipartisan, commonsense step to aid America’s greatest support system — family caregivers — is long overdue.

Passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, the RAISE Act would develop a national strategy to support family caregivers, bringing together stakeholders from the public and private sectors — including state and local officials, health care and long-term services and support providers, employers, federal agencies, older adults, persons with disabilities and family caregivers themselves — to identify specific actions communities, providers, government, employers and others can take, including with respect to: promoting person- and family-centered care in a range of settings; assessment and service planning involving both care recipients and family caregivers; information, education, referral and care coordination; and respite options so caregivers can reset and recharge.
Today, more than 40 million family caregivers care for veterans, parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones so they can continue to live at home. The unpaid care family caregivers provide — valued at about $470 billion annually — helps delay or prevent more costly care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.

I know from firsthand experience that caring for a loved one is a tremendous responsibility. While I have much in common with my fellow caregivers, my experience is unique in many ways. Indeed, each of our caregiving experiences is individual, seen through our own personal family lens. Everyday duties can include bathing and dressing; preparing and feeding meals; transportation; handling financial, health care and legal matters; and often complex medical tasks like wound care. Many family caregivers are working full time and raising families. They are often on call 24/7.

That’s why AARP, together with a number of other organizations and family caregivers themselves, is calling for the U.S. House to pass the RAISE Act now.   

One such organization, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, works with military and veteran caregivers. In a recent radio news story, former senator Dole said:

“Five and a half million military and veteran caregivers are caring for loved ones with devastating wounds, illnesses and disabling injuries — visible and invisible. By passing the RAISE Act, we can create an important path forward so military family caregivers, all family caregivers, get the support they need.”

Another group pressing the U.S. House to pass the RAISE Act is Autism Speaks. Executive Vice President of Programs and Services Lisa Goring says:

“Millions of family members are forced to step in as full-time caregivers to keep their loved ones with autism and other developmental disabilities safe and supported. Now is the time for a national strategy to support all family caregivers to ensure their loved ones a better future.”

For me, it’s the stories and experiences of family caregivers that really underscore why the RAISE Act must pass now. Britnee Fergins cares for her father. She says:

“My 91-year-old father, who’s a World War II veteran, requires a lot of attention. I also have a very energetic 3-year-old son — and work 12-hour shifts as a chemist. It’s a constant juggling act, and some days, I’m afraid I’m going to drop the ball.”

Family caregiving is a unique and deeply personal issue that affects just about all of us, wherever we are on the political and ideological spectrum. We are either family caregivers now, were in the past, will be in the future — or will need care ourselves one day.

The RAISE Act would implement the bipartisan recommendation of the federal Commission on Long-Term Care, requiring the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers, similar in scope to the national strategy developed to address Alzheimer’s disease. The need is urgent and time this year is running out.

AARP urges the U.S. House to pass the RAISE Family Caregivers Act now. And I urge you to contact your representative about the RAISE Act today.  Call 844-259-9351 or click here.

The following U.S. representatives are cosponsors of the bipartisan RAISE Act as of Aug. 22:

Lead Sponsors
Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.)

Cosponsors

Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.)

Rep. Black (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Pascrell (D-N.J.)

Rep. Emmer (R-Minn.)

Rep. Pocan (D-Wis.)

Rep. Deutch (D-Fla.)

Rep. Katko (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Pompeo (R-Kan.)

Rep. O’Rourke (D-Texas)

Rep. Amodei (R-Nev.)

Rep. Duckworth (D-Ill.)

Rep. Chu (D-Calif.)

Rep. Schakowsky (D-Ill.)

Rep. Fortenberry (R-Neb.)

Rep. Gibson (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Pingree (D-Maine)

Rep. Bonamici (D-Ore.)

Rep. Napolitano (D-Calif.)

Rep. Lujan (D-N.M.)

Rep. Hastings (D-Fla.)

Rep. Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)

Rep. Kuster (D-N.H.)

Rep. Blumenauer (D-Ore.)

Rep. Lofgren (D-Calif.)

Rep. Freylinghuysen (R-N.J.)

Rep. Murphy (R-Pa.)

Rep. Frankel (D-Fla.)

Rep. Dingell (D-Mich.)

Rep. Lee (D-Calif.)

Rep. Brady (D-Pa.)

Rep. Rice (D-N.Y.)

Rep. DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Beatty (D-Ohio)

Rep. Davis (D-Calif.)

Rep. Beyer (D-Va.)

Rep. Roe (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Stefanik (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Courtney (D-Conn.)

Rep. Langevin (D-R.I.)

Rep. Meehan (R-Pa.)

Rep. Kilmer (D-Wash.)

Rep. Takano (D-Calif.)

Rep. Payne (D-N.J.)

Rep. Allen (R-Ga.)

Rep. Ashford (D-Neb.)

Rep. Peters (D-Calif.)

Rep. Matsui (D-Calif.)

Rep. Larson (D-Conn.)

Rep. Denham (R-Calif.)

Rep. Bishop (R-Mich.)

Rep. Hunter (R-Calif.)

Rep. Smith (D-Wash.)

Rep. Meng (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Cramer (R-N.D.)

Rep. Clark (D-Mass.)

Rep. Boyle (D-Pa.)

Rep. Esty (D-Conn.)

Rep. Dold (R-Ill.)

Rep. Thompson (R-Pa.)

Rep. Lipinski (D-Ill.)

Rep. Messer (R-Ind.)

Rep. Jenkins (R-Kan.)

Rep. Moore (D-Wis.)

Rep. Smith (R-N.J.)

Rep. Clarke (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)

Rep. MacArthur (R-N.J.)

Rep. Curbelo (R-Fla.)

Rep. Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

Rep. Grayson (D-Fla.)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)

Rep. Takai (D-Hawaii)

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.)

Rep. Cicilline (D-R.I.)

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Sessions (R-Texas)

Rep. McKinley (R-W.Va.)

Rep. Slaughter (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Simpson (R-Idaho)

Rep. Kelly (D-Ill.)

Rep. Nolan (D-Minn.)

Rep. Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)

Rep. Capps (D-Calif.)

Rep. Zeldin (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Guinta (R-N.H.)

Rep. Miller (R-Mich.)

Rep. Walberg (R-Mich.)

Rep. LoBiondo (R-N.J.)

Rep. Tonko (D-N.Y.)

Rep. LaHood (R-Ill.)

Rep. Lance (R-N.J.)

Rep. Sean P. Maloney (D-N.Y.)


Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

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