ALBANY, N.Y. – Critical help for millions of family caregivers across New York took another key step toward reality today when the Assembly Health Committee unanimously approved the CARE Act .
Last week the State Senate unanimously passed the measure, which is AARP’s top 2015 state legislative priority and supports family caregivers as they safely help New Yorkers age at home.
With Governor Andrew Cuomo having proposed a similar Caregiver Support Initiative in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda/State of the State (pages 305-306), AARP is optimistic this important measure will become a reality this year and begin providing New York’s family caregivers the tools they need to properly care for their loved ones.
The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act ensures hospital patients can designate a family caregiver and requires hospitals to offer that caregiver instruction and demonstrations of medical tasks they will be expected to provide for their loved ones at home, such as administering multiple medications, dressing wounds and operating medical equipment.
“AARP commends Chairman Dick Gottfried and the entire Assembly Health Committee – especially CARE Act sponsor and champion Linda Rosenthal - for taking this important step,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. “The better prepared family caregivers are when they take their loved ones home from the hospital, the smoother the transition will be for both patient and caregiver and the better the health outcome.”
Rosenthal stood with AARP and other supporters last week to announce the measure as one of her top 2015 priorities. The Assembly Health Committee’s vote today moves the bill to the house’s Codes Committee. AARP expects the CARE Act to go to the floor for an Assembly vote before the scheduled end of the legislative session in late June.
The bill could help 1.6 million adult New Yorkers a year who are discharged home from hospitals, as well as many of the state’s more than four million family caregivers.
The ranks of New York’s caregivers are only expected to increase as New York’s population ages - yet AARP found that in the coming years, fewer family members will be available to provide care for more older loved ones who will need it. In 2010 there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. That number will shrink to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.
About half of all family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks for their loved ones.
AARP estimates New York’s family caregivers provide care valued at an estimated $32 billion a year.
The CARE Act, which has the support of a wide range of organizations representing consumers, health advocates and seniors and people with disabilities, would help more New Yorkers age in their own homes, rather than in costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes or other institutional settings. The bill, which could reduce costly hospital readmissions, requires that patients’ designated family caregivers be identified and included in official medical records and that hospitals notify family caregivers prior to a patient’s transfer or discharge.
The bill enjoys broad support among voters 50 and older across New York, with 92% saying hospitals should “explain and demonstrate” to family caregivers medical tasks they’ll have to perform when their loved ones are sent home from the hospital, a 2014 AARP survey found.
AARP members from Harlem attended today’s Assembly Health Committee vote after urging their own representatives to support the bill. AARP members from around the state plan to travel to the State Capitol weekly to urge state legislators to pass the CARE Act.
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