CARE Act Clears Key Senate Committees

March 3, 2016, 3:53 PM HST · Updated March 3, 3:53 PM
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CARE Act Coalition.

CARE Act Coalition.

The caregiver bill sometimes referred to as the CARE Act or SB2397 SD1, passed key committees ahead of next week’s crossover deadline.

“While the bill passed key committees without some clarifying amendments advocates had asked for, we approach crossover with viable bills in both the Senate and House,” said Bruce Bottorff of AARP Hawaiʻi.

Members of the Hawaiʻi CARE Act Coalition this week welcomed the passage of SB 2397 SD1 by the Senate Judiciary and Labor and Senate Human Services Committees.

The caregiver support bill would require hospitals to establish procedures giving family caregivers the opportunity to receive instruction – prior to discharge – in medical tasks required when patients go home. Supporters say the proposed measure is needed in Hawaiʻi as many unpaid caregivers are routinely called on to provide complex care in the home for which they are unprepared.

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“Advocates are grateful to Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection and Health Chair Rosalyn Baker for responding to the concerns of family caregivers across the state and supporting a bill that will promote greater family caregiver involvement in hospital discharge processes,” said AARP Hawaiʻi State Director Barbara Kim Stanton.

AARP representatives say they prefer SB 2397 SD1 to the House version of the bill (HB 2252 HD1). The CARE Act Coalition had called for clarifying amendments to ensure that hospitals adopt discharge procedures that exceed existing and proposed federal rules. Existing rules are “insufficient,” they say, because they make family caregiver involvement the discretion of the hospitals. “Proposed federal rules likewise fall short of the CARE Act, and may not go into effect until 2018,” advocates say.

Meanwhile, AARP representatives say “Hawaiʻi is falling behind other states” in recognizing the importance of family caregivers to the health of its aging population. Since 2014, 18 states have enacted laws allowing patients to designate caregivers and giving them an opportunity to receive after-care instructions to keep their loved ones safe at home after discharge. Another 23 states have introduced CARE Act legislation in 2016.

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According to AARP, an estimated 154,000 caregivers in Hawaiʻi provide increasingly complex care services – including injections, tube feedings, and medication management – to older loved ones at home. Collectively, Hawaiʻi’s caregivers provided unpaid care valued at $2.1 billion in 2013 alone.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with nearly 150,000 members in Hawaiʻi. AARP advocates support of healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse.

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