08.04.15

Support Continues to Grow for Baldwin’s Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act

More than 50 national and state advocacy groups join support of bipartisan legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today announced that support continues to grow for the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage, or RAISE Family Caregivers Act. Introduced with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a National Family Caregiving Project to develop and sustain a national strategy to support family caregivers.

“I’m proud of the widespread support, nationally and in Wisconsin, that the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act has received,” 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.”

“It is essential that we value our family caregivers who contribute such a significant amount of unpaid, yet critical health services to our economy. In order to guarantee that our elderly get the care they need while reducing health care costs, we must fully support family caregivers,” said Rob Gundermann, Public Policy Director, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of WI, Inc. “We strongly support the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and are excited that Senator Baldwin has introduced this bipartisan bill to help promote and sustain the family caregiver workforce.”

“The Alzheimer's Association chapters in Wisconsin appreciate and support Senator Baldwin's leadership in introducing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act,” said Tom Hlavacek, Laurie Schill and Kari Paterson, Executive Directors of the Alzheimer's Association Wisconsin Chapters. “Over 80% of people with Alzheimer's or a related dementia live at home and are supported by family caregivers, and those caregivers face enormous physical, emotional and financial challenges. We need a national caregiver strategy since the number of people with dementia will skyrocket over the coming years.”

More than 45 national groups 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 letter was signed by: AARP, Advance CLASS, Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Association on Health and Disability, American Geriatrics Society, American Health Care Association, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), American Society on Aging, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autism Speaks, Caregiver Action Network, Caring Across Generations, Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, Altarum Institute, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Easter Seals, Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving, Genworth Financial, Justice in Aging (formerly National Senior Citizens Law Center), Lakeshore Foundation, LeadingAge, Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran Services in America Disability Network, Medicare Rights Center, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), National Alliancefor Caregiving, National Association for Home Care & Hospice, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of Social Workers (NASW), National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Respite Coalition, Oral Health America (OHA), OWL -The Voice of Women 40+, Paralyzed Veterans of America, PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute), Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), The Arc, The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and The Jewish Federations of North America.

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is also supported by the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources (GWAAR) and the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network (WAAN).

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.

Learn more about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.