Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act moves forward

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded the passage of her bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage, or RAISE Family Caregivers Act, by the committee unanimously by voice vote. Introduced with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish and sustain a National Family Caregiving Strategy to support family caregivers. The legislation will now move to the full Senate.

Over the past few months, Senator Baldwin has toured the state of Wisconsin, promoting the legislation and hosting listening sessions in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Wausau with family caregivers. 

“I’m proud of the widespread support, nationally and in Wisconsin, that the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act has received and I applaud today’s vote by my colleagues on the HELP Committee that moves this critical, bipartisan bill forward,” said Senator Baldwin. “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. The bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act creates a national strategy and plan to assist family caregivers. 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.”

“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. 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.”

At present, there are about 40 million family caregivers in the United States, who, in 2013, provided an estimated $470 billion in uncompensated long-term care. This is more than the total Medicare spending that year. 

In addition, Americans 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. This population is most at risk of multiple and interacting health problems that can lead to disability and the need for round-the-clock care.

This summer, a coalition of national organizations sent a letter of support for the RAISE Family Caregivers Act to Senators Baldwin and Collins, applauding their efforts to work on a bipartisan basis to support family caregivers.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of services and supports in this country. They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities,” wrote the supporters. “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. We appreciate your bipartisan leadership and are committed to working with you to pass the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.”

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is also supported by the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources (GWAAR), the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network (WAAN), Alzheimer's Association Wisconsin Chapters, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of WI, Inc, and Interfaith Older Adult Programs, Inc

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