Hawaii State CapitolElder advocates descended on the state Capitol Tuesday in support of Senate Bill 2264 – the CARE Act – in anticipation of a hearing by the House Health Committee. About 30 AARP volunteers met with House legislators to urge support of the measure that would require hospitals to provide family caregivers with instruction needed to care for loved ones at home after discharge.

“Hawaii’s family caregivers have a huge responsibility, and their role in the home is expanding to include medical and nursing tasks of the kind and complexity once provided only in hospitals and nursing homes,” said Stuart Ho, former AARP Hawaii state president and former chair of the Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission. “With this bill, Hawaii can take some common-sense steps that would make a world of difference to them.”

Senate Bill 2264 would allow family caregivers to be named on the medical record of a loved one admitted to the hospital. It would also allow the caregiver to get instruction needed to care for the patient when they are discharged. It is intended to relieve some of the pressure on family caregivers who are faced with the need to perform complicated medical tasks at home – such as administering tube feedings and giving injections – for which they’re often unprepared.

The bill would also discourage costly and unnecessary hospital readmissions and impact the health care system as a whole. In Hawaii, 71 percent of hospitals were assessed Medicare penalties for excessive readmissions in year two of the federal Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.

As Hawaii’s population ages, the state relies on family caregivers to take care of their aging parents and grandparents at home. There are nearly a quarter million (247,000) Hawaii residents who spend unpaid time each year caring for older friends and family members.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social mission organization for people age 50 and older with nearly 150,000 members in Hawaii. AARP champions access to affordable, quality health care for all generations, provide the tools needed to save for retirement, and serve as a reliable information source on issues critical to older Americans.