|AARP Rhode Island |
AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS – TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE
House Committee on Finance
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Chairman Melo and Members of the Committee:
My name is Deanna Casey and I’m the AARP Rhode Island Associate State Director for Advocacy. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I would like to share with you AARP’s whole-hearted support for House Bill H5889, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Temporary Disability, which would allow family caregivers the opportunity to take time away from their work to care for an ill family member and receive compensation.
The American workforce is changing. With the dramatic aging of the population and the increasing number of women in the labor force, fewer people are at home to provide care for family members. As a result, millions of working people provide care for family members who are elderly, have disabilities or are chronically ill. Many of these family caregivers are struggling to manage both their caregiving responsibilities and the jobs they need to support their families, and they receive little help from their employers or public policies. Employers are also struggling with how best to balance competing interests of work and family for their employees. The need for this legislation to establish a temporary disability insurance program in Rhode Island is both vital and necessary to ease these challenges.
Sixty-six million Americans – almost 30 percent of the adult population – serve as unpaid family caregivers annually. Nearly six in 10 caregivers are employed, and more than seven in 10 have been employed at some point while providing care. Turning to Rhode Island, AARP estimates that there are 148,000 family caregivers at any given time who in the aggregate provide 142 million hours of care, providing an unpaid economic value estimated at just under $1.9 billion.
Family care is extremely beneficial for the person in need, but when a family caregiver has a paid job, his or her caregiving responsibilities inevitably require short periods of time off of work. Often, employees must make work-related adjustments to accommodate the needs of the person who is ill and needs care. Working caregivers often must divert attention away from their jobs to tend to caregiving responsibilities. Furthermore, working caregivers have varying leave needs, with some caregivers best supported by a block of time off to care for a terminally ill family member while others may only need sporadic time off to tend to day-to-day caregiving responsibilities.
I want to refer to the AARP’s Long Term Services and Supports Scorecard (that I gave you on Tuesday) outlining Rhode Island’s performance. As I had mentioned, this scorecard is a multidimensional assessment of a state’s performance with respect to Long Term Care Supports and Services. Rhode Island ranked 34 th nationally. In the plan to improve Rhode Island’s score one recommendation was to “strengthen Family Caregiver Support Services by enacting Temporary Caregiver Insurance Leave Law”. This bill is in response to that.
I’m sure each member of the committee has a personal story about caregiving for a family member and that you recognize the value of easing the burden on the caregiver.
AARP with over 131,000 members in Rhode Island supports House bill H5889 and urge you to consider this bill favorably.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Deanna J. Casey
Associate State Director, Advocacy
AARP Rhode Island