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Congress passes act to create plan for supporting caregivers

January 11, 2018 GMT

WASHINGTON — Help for West Virginia’s more than 300,000 adult caregivers could be on the horizon thanks to a new piece of legislation making its way to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act was passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, confirming the House of Representatives’ version of the bill that passed in December.

The RAISE Act mandates the secretary of health and human services, working with federal agencies and a Family Caregiving Advisory Council, to create a strategy to support the nation’s nearly 40 million caregivers.

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Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.

“Having recently been a caregiver for loved ones, I understand the unique and important role families play in caregiving,” Capito said in a statement to The Herald-Dispatch. “It is truly a full-time job, and caregivers need all of the support they can get. ... I strongly believe family caregivers in West Virginia and across the nation deserve a national strategy to recognize and support the vital services and care they provide.”

Every day, millions of Americans provide care for parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones to help them live independently in their homes and communities. Family caregivers take on a range of tasks, including managing medications, helping with bathing and dressing, preparing and feeding meals, arranging transportation, and handling financial and legal matters. The unpaid care that family caregivers provide helps delay or prevent costly nursing home care, which is often paid for by Medicaid.

The Family Caregiving Advisory Council established in the bill will bring together stakeholders from the private and public sectors to make recommendations that communities, providers, government and others are taking and may take to help make caregiving a little bit easier.

Issues the council and secretary must look at include adoption of person- and family-centered care in all health and support settings, service planning, education and training services, respite options, financial security and workplace issues, and service delivery.

The AARP applauded the passage of the bill in a news release Tuesday.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of our care system in America,” said AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy A. LeaMond. “We need to make it easier for them to coordinate care for their loved ones, get information and resources, and take a break so they can rest and recharge.”

The bill now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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