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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Passes Senate

More than 50 national and state advocacy groups have joined in support of bipartisan legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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 United States Senate. 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 consideration by the House of Representatives.

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 applaud the Senate’s move to advance the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act forward, and I’m proud of the widespread support, nationally and in Wisconsin, that this critical, bipartisan bill has received,” said Senator Baldwin. “In so many instances, family caregivers put their own health, livelihoods and financial security at risk to tend to the needs of their loved ones, many of whom require full-time assistance and care. 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.”

“Our family caregivers are an invaluable resource to our aging society,” said Senator Collins. “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. At some point most of us will likely either be 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.”

“Caregiving was once a very personal and private matter, but now with over 578,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin alone - it is a public issue. Today, caring for an older relative, a spouse, a parent is affecting people in all walks of life – boomers, men, women, millennials.  It really is an ageless and nonpartisan issue.  Family caregivers face huge responsibilities in keeping loved ones in their homes and communities – and they need and deserve support.  With today’s passage of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act we are now on our way to developing a national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers.  Thank you Senator Baldwin for your leadership on this issue,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. 

"We wholeheartedly endorse Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act and applaud its passage in the Senate," said Robert Kellerman, Executive Director of the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources. "Family caregivers are an incredibly important yet often undervalued component of our health and long-term care systems. This initiative recognizes, supports, and honors their efforts."

“The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin applauds and congratulates Senator Baldwin for passing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act in the U.S. Senate. We greatly appreciate all of the hard work Senator Baldwin and her staff have put into this important legislation which will significantly improve the lives of people with dementia and their caregivers,” said Rob Gundermann, Public Policy Director, Alzheimer's & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.

“Coming off of November as the Alzheimer's Caregiver Awareness month, family caregivers are the glue that hold our families together.  Let's face it, all of us are aging. Many more of us are finding ourselves caring for mom or dad who may be struggling on their own. We simply cannot offer enough education about healthy aging, caregiving techniques and approaches, and ways to connect caregivers to resources in our community. I applaud the U.S. Senate’s passage of the RAISE Family Caregiver Act and Sen. Baldwin's commitment to the families of Wisconsin,” said Kari Paterson, Alzheimer's Association South Central WI. 

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 Medicaid 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.

Learn more about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.