Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act of 2017by Representative Joe Courtney
Posted on 2017-12-18
COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I join my colleague from Kansas (Mr. Estes) today and rise in support of H.R. 3759, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act. I want to congratulate all the cosponsors of this bill for their good work in terms of bringing this forward, and, again, it looks very promising that it will be passed and signed into law shortly.
Mr. Speaker, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to reach 70 million by 2030, roughly doubling the number that existed in 2005. As those Americans age and require assistance with their daily routines--taking medication, getting dressed, cooking, and attending medical appointments--family caregivers will step in to make sure that their loved ones are safe and cared for.
This is difficult work. For an adult child, caring for an aging parent can quickly become a full-time job. Between juggling appointments, understanding medications, helping make informed medical decisions, a caregiver's own priorities can take a backseat. Most caregivers have jobs of their own, and many care simultaneously for an aging parent as well as their own children.
But caregivers are not only providing care for older Americans or even younger Americans with developmental disabilities. They also serve those who have served our country.
I recently met with a caregiver from my district, Jessica, who cares for her husband, a veteran who suffered serious traumatic brain injury during the battle of Fallujah. Her experience managing her husband's complex medical needs while also raising their children goes to show that ensuring caregivers are supported is a national priority.
The bill under consideration today would recognize the contribution that family caregivers make toward the safety and health of older Americans. It would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and maintain a strategy to support family caregivers by establishing an advisory body to bring together caregivers, older adults, persons with disabilities, veterans, employers, and State and local officials. This advisory council would make recommendations for how to support, assist, and engage family caregivers.
Caregivers are needed to help Americans live independently in their homes and communities for as long as possible. In my home State of Connecticut, there are 459,000 family caregivers who provide an estimated $5.9 billion in unpaid care, annually. Supporting older and disabled Americans through caregiving and ensuring caregivers are equipped to take on this important role benefits all Americans. Evidence has shown that, when caregivers are supported, patients delay placement in a nursing home, continuing with lower-cost, long-term support in the home for much longer periods of time.
Caregiving is foundational to our long-term care system in the United States. This legislation is an important step to ensure this work is recognized and supported.
Again, as the gentleman pointed out, the Commission on Long-Term Care, which was actually created by this body in 2012 as part of one of the budget bills that passed that year, was a group of stakeholders from all across the country, in various sectors, that came together and issued a report that, unfortunately, I don't think has gotten the focus and attention it needs with the demographics that our country is experiencing right now: the aging of our society.
However, this is one of those recommendations for which signs of intelligent life appeared in Congress, and we are taking up their call for passing legislation like the RAISE Act.
So again, I want to congratulate all the sponsors for coming together, and I am looking forward to sending this bill to the President for his signature.
I reserve the balance of my time.