Des Moines, April 15, 2016 – AARP applauds the Iowa House Appropriations Committee for including the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act in the House Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, HF 2460, which passed the House Appropriations Committee and now moves to the House floor.
The CARE Act, introduced as HSB 564 in 2016, is commonsense legislation to better address the caring realities of Iowa’s estimated 317,000 caregivers, so that they are better prepared to care for their loved ones when they transition from hospital to home.
AARP especially thanks House leadership, including Representative Linda Miller, who introduced the CARE Act in the House, and Representative Dave Heaton for managing the HHS bill with the CARE Act included in the bill.
“Hard-working family caregivers are the backbone of our state’s long term care system, providing more than two-thirds of home care for older Iowans and adults with disabilities, valued at about $3.9 billion annually,” said Kent Sovern, State Director of AARP Iowa, which represents more than 380,000 Iowans age 50 and older. “Without the help of family caregivers, many older Iowans would end up in costly institutions or back in the hospital for avoidable follow-up care.”
The CARE act seeks to fill the gap between what Iowa caregivers need to do for their loved ones, and what they know how to do.
According to a 2015 AARP survey of Iowa voters aged 45 and older, two-thirds (65 percent) of Iowa family caregivers assist their loved ones with complex medical tasks such as wound care and IVs and injections, yet half of current or past caregivers (50 percent) claim they did not receive a hospital demonstration for the medical tasks they needed to perform at home.
Currently, Iowa hospitals decide whether or not to involve caregivers at the hospital and receive instructions at the hospital on how to provide proper care for their loved ones. AARP believes that Iowans deserve better, as outlined by the CARE Act:
• All adult Iowans would receive the option to name and designate a family caregiver upon hospital admission
• If a caregiver is designated, he or she will be notified when the loved one is to be discharged
• Prior to discharge, the hospital would discuss with the designated caregiver the patient’s care needs at home and discuss with the caregiver what local professional help is available.
• Prior to discharge, the hospital would provide an explanation and demonstration for medical tasks that the caregiver will need perform at home, such as medication management, injections, and wound care.
If passed, Iowa would join over 20 other states in passing some version of the CARE Act, including most recently, Wyoming and Nebraska. Passing the CARE Act in Iowa is especially important as data shows that Iowa's family caregiver 65% rate of involvement in medical tasks is 19 percentage points higher than the average national caregiver 46% rate of involvement in medical care.
Iowa's CARE Act is supported by other Iowa aging advocates including the Alzheimer's Association of Iowa, Iowa's Area Agencies on Aging, the Older Iowans Legislature and the Iowa Caregivers Association. Other Iowa consumer groups who support the CARE Act include the American Heart Association of Iowa, American Cancer Society of Iowa Action Network, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Iowa.
“The Care Act would provide much needed support for family caregivers,” said Sovern. “Ninety-five percent of Iowa voters age 45+ support requiring demonstration of medical care to patient's designated caregiver. They understand, support, and expect this commonsense practice in all Iowa hospitals as they help transition their loved ones from the hospital home.”
AARP thanks the Iowa House for insisting on better than the status quo for Iowa family caregivers and urges the full Iowa House to approve a House Health and Human Services (HHS) budget with the CARE Act included.