Legislation would help Iowa’s 317,000 family caregivers
Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell both voiced support for passage of a CARE (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable) Act in Iowa in a recently recorded video voter guide interview with AARP Iowa. The candidates for Governor were asked four questions about aging issues in Iowa, and had one minute to provide their answers to each.
Both candidates were posed the question, “What would you do to provide more support for Iowa’s family
"Our family caregivers are the unsung heroes who give their time every day to make sure that they can adequately take care of their loved ones and keep them home,” said Gov. Reynolds. “And that’s why I support the CARE Act, so that we make sure that those that are providing those critical services for their loved ones have the tools that they need to adequately do that.”
“Being a caregiver places emotional and physical toll on the individual, and we need to make sure that we have the right kind of opportunities for people to get the training they need to be able to do that job properly,” said Hubbell. “We need to work with the CARE Act in our state and bring a coalition of supporters and interested parties together to take a bipartisan approach to implement a CARE Act in Iowa so that when someone comes out of the hospital and they go home, that the caregiver has the training and support that they need to provide that necessary assistance.”
The CARE Act would provide support to Iowa’s more than 317,000 family caregivers who help their older parents, spouses and other loved ones live safely and independently at home. The legislation includes three commonsense steps that will help family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. It requires that: all patients admitted to an Iowa hospital have the option to designate and record a family caregiver upon admission; the designated caregiver be informed when their loved one is to be discharged; and, the caregiver is provided instruction of any medical tasks they will need to perform at home.
Iowa is one of only 13 states that do not have a law similar to the 2018 Iowa CARE Act in place for caregiving families. No federal laws, rules or regulations—including those for Medicare—define the steps hospitals must take so family caregivers are engaged in their loved ones’ care.
The Iowa CARE Act is supported by many organizations across the state, including AARP Iowa; the Older Iowans Legislature; Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging; American Heart Association of Iowa; American Cancer Society Citizen Action Network Iowa; Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Iowa Chapter; Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa; Iowa CareGivers; and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. These groups and supportive lawmakers have worked with other Iowa stakeholders to revise the 2018 Iowa CARE Act, which had no recorded opposition.
“It should be a priority of the state legislature to pass the CARE Act early in the 2019 session,” said AARP Iowa State Director Brad Anderson. “As we traveled the state as part of our recent ‘Be the Difference, Vote,’ voter education campaign, we heard a great desire to bring the same supports for Iowa patients and family caregivers that so many other states across the country already have.”
A 2015 AARP Iowa survey of 1,000 Iowa voters age 45+ found that 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 50 percent of current or past caregivers reported that they did not receive instruction for the medical tasks they would be performing at home. The survey also found that a vast majority of Iowa’s registered voters 45 and older support the CARE Act. This support encompassed voters across political party lines and ideological leanings. Across Iowa, family caregivers spend 295 million hours each year caring for loved ones—a contribution totaling about $3.8 billion in unpaid care. They carry out tasks like managing finances, providing transportation, helping with bathing and dressing, cooking meals and more.
More information on the implementation of CARE Act legislation across the county can be found at https://bit.ly/2F1y20r.