AARP Eye Center
Elder advocates issued the following joint statement following Senate Health Committee Chair Josh Green's deferral of SB 296 - a bill supporting family caregivers in Hawaii:
“Supporters of the CARE Act are disappointed with the Senate Health Committee’s indefinite deferral of Senate Bill 296 and the current refusal of the House Health Committee to grant House Bill 490 a hearing. We disagree with Senate Health Committee Chair Josh Green’s decision to defer the issue of caregiver support to the Working Group established to examine the role of family caregivers in hospital discharge procedures. We also disagree with House Health Committee Chair Della Au Belatti’s refusal to grant the bill a hearing in the House.
“Since the Caregiver Working Group was convened last summer (HCR 78), it has become clear that its members – as currently configured – will never reach consensus on how Hawaii’s hospitals can support family caregivers who make it possible for our seniors to live safely and independently in their homes. Hospitals outnumber elder advocates on the Working Group by more than 2-to-1, and hospital representatives have shown little interest in collaborating with caregiver groups in finding ways to ease the burden on unpaid caregivers and their families.
“By deferring Senate Bill 296 and refusing to hear House Bill 490, the Senate and House Health Committees have effectively quashed a much-needed community dialogue that must take place on the importance of family caregivers and how hospitals can support them. We believe the legislative process is the most effective way to allow the voices of Hawaii’s caregivers to be heard.
“In Hawaii today, an estimated 247,000 unpaid family caregivers are the backbone of our eldercare system. This selfless army of unpaid caregivers helps our seniors stay safely at home. The work they do contributes to the prevention of unnecessary hospitalizations – which the Hawaii Health Information Corporation says resulted in associated charges of nearly $240 million in 2013.
“Senate Bill 296 and House Bill 490 include a common sense provision that would require hospitals to provide designated family caregivers with a live or recorded instruction of the medical after-care tasks they will have to provide for their loved one at home after discharge. These bills would provide a minimum, consistent level of support to all family caregivers from all hospitals throughout the state.
“The Health Committees’ refusal to advance these bills right now will not silence the voices of Hawaii’s family caregivers, nor will it stem the efforts of advocates working on their behalf.
“We commend Senate Human Services and Housing Chair Suzanne Chun Oakland, Kupuna Caucus Co-Chair Gregg Takayama and other legislators who have championed the cause of Hawaii’s caregivers.
“As Hawaii’s population ages, and the risk of developing chronic illness that require hospitalization increases, the demands on our caregivers will increase as well. Engaging family caregivers is vital to achieving effective hospital transitions. We will continue to do everything in our power to support family caregivers – and ensure that their voices are heard at the state Legislature.”
• AARP Hawaii
• Hawaii Alliance for Retired Americans (HARA)
• Hawaii Family Caregiver Coalition
• ILWU Local 142
• Kokua Council
• Kauai County Agency on Elderly Affairs
• Maui County Office on Aging
• Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs (PABEA)