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AARP AARP States West Virginia Advocacy

Opinion: Let's Reduce Red Tape For Family Caregivers

By: Gaylene Miller, AARP WV State Director
October 29, 2023

Today, more than 48 million Americans, including 250,000 here in West Virginia, are family caregivers, many helping their older parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently. They need help now.


Caregivers are holding up a broken long-term care system; the physical, emotional, and financial toll on them is great. The last thing caregivers should have to deal with is being bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.
That’s why West Virginia’s own Senator Shelley Moore Capito is sponsoring a bill, the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act (ABC Act), that would require the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services and the Social Security Administration to look for ways to reduce some of the excessive and often unnecessary rules that are making the already tough job of being a caregiver even more challenging.

Doing so would enable caregivers to help their loved ones get better access to the money and the health care they’ve earned, as well as result in better customer service from these agencies.

Our nation’s dedicated family caregivers provide $600 billion worth of unpaid labor each year—managing medications, preparing meals, helping with bathing, feeding, and dressing, providing transportation to medical appointments, and handling financial and legal matters.

Here in West Virginia, they provide 230 million care hours per year, adding up to $3 billion in unpaid labor per year, saving taxpayers billions. But that’s not why they do it. They do it because it helps their older parents, spouses, or other loved ones to live independently in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing homes. And most of the people doing all that unpaid work are also trying to juggle paying jobs, too. Many are forced to reduce their hours or quit entirely.

Some commonsense solutions, like cutting red tape, could give caregivers time to address their own health and financial security and help them better afford the more than $7,200 they spend on average to handle their loved one’s needs every year.

For far too long, family caregivers have been silent warriors. But that’s changing. Already, 300,000 people have raised their hands to join AARP’s nationwide movement to support family caregivers. For more information, check out

AARP applauds Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s leadership on this important matter. We’re fighting to save time and money for family caregivers — and get them the support they need — here in West Virginia and across the country. It should not be so hard to provide care. It’s time we do something about it.

Gaylene Miller is the West Virginia State Director of AARP, the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.

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