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AARP AARP States Caregiving

CARE Act Clears Key Senate Committees

HI CARE Act Coalition

Members of the Hawaii CARE Act Coalition this week welcomed the passage of SB 2397 SD1 by the Senate Judiciary and Labor and Senate Human Services Committees. The caregiver support bill would require hospitals to establish procedures giving family caregivers the opportunity to receive instruction – prior to discharge – in medical tasks required when patients go home. The proposed measure is needed in Hawaii as many unpaid caregivers are routinely called on to provide complex care in the home for which they are unprepared.

“Advocates are grateful to Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection and Health Chair Rosalyn Baker for responding to the concerns of family caregivers across the state and supporting a bill that will promote greater family caregiver involvement in hospital discharge processes,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton.

Caregiver advocates prefer SB 2397 SD1 to the House version of the bill ( HB 2252 HD1). The CARE Act Coalition had called for clarifying amendments to ensure that hospitals adopt discharge procedures that exceed existing and proposed federal rules. Existing rules are insufficient, they say, because they make family caregiver involvement the discretion of the hospitals. Proposed federal rules likewise fall short of the CARE Act, and may not go into effect until 2018, advocates say.

Meanwhile, Hawaii is falling behind other states in recognizing the importance of family caregivers to the health of its aging population. Since 2014, 18 states have enacted laws allowing patients to designate caregivers and giving them an opportunity to receive after-care instructions to keep their loved ones safe at home after discharge. Another 23 states have introduced CARE Act legislation in 2016.

An estimated 154,000 caregivers in Hawaii provide increasingly complex care services – including injections, tube feedings, and medication management – to older loved ones at home. Collectively, Hawaii’s caregivers provided unpaid care valued at $2.1 billion in 2013 alone.

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