AARP Supports the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act


By Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts

Across America, family caregivers help parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones to live independently. They prepare meals, handle finances, manage medications, drive to doctors’ appointments, help with bathing and dressing, and perform complex medical tasks and more — all so loved ones can live at home.

These family caregivers have a big job, but some basic support — and commonsense solutions — can help make their big responsibilities a little bit easier. This is an ageless and nonpartisan issue. That’s why AARP urges the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028/H.R. 3759) this year. The Senate passed this bipartisan bill in September.

Most of us are, have been, or will be a family caregiver, or may need help to live independently. Family caregivers are the backbone of services and supports in this country. They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities of all ages to live independently in their homes and communities. About 40 million family caregivers provide about $470 billion annually in unpaid care to their loved ones. Family caregivers assist with tasks, such as eating, bathing, dressing, transportation, medical/nursing tasks, managing finances, and coordinating services and care among providers. Our country relies on the contributions family caregivers make and should recognize and support them. Family caregivers take on physical, emotional, and financial challenges in their caregiving roles.

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop, maintain and update a strategy to recognize and support family caregivers. The bill would bring representatives from the private and public sectors, such as family caregivers; older adults and persons with disabilities; veterans; providers of health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS); employers; state and local officials; and others together to advise and make recommendations regarding this new strategy. The advisory council meetings would be open to the public, and there would be opportunities for public input. The strategy would identify recommended actions that communities, providers, government, and others are taking and may take to recognize and support family caregivers, including with respect to:

  • Promoting greater adoption of person- and family-centered care in all health and LTSS settings, with the person and the family caregiver (as appropriate) at the center of care teams
  • Assessment and service planning (including care transitions and coordination) involving care recipients and family caregivers
  • Information, education, training supports, referral, and care coordination
  • Respite options
  • Financial security and workplace issues

The development of the initial strategy would take up to 18 months, followed by updates of the strategy biennially. The bill would improve the collection and sharing of information, including information related to evidence-based or promising practices and innovative models regarding family caregiving; better coordinate, assess, maximize the effectiveness, and avoid unnecessary duplication of existing federal government activities to recognize and support family caregivers. The strategy and work around it could help support and inform state and local efforts to support family caregivers.

By supporting family caregivers, we can help people stay at home where they want to be, helping to delay or prevent more costly nursing home care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.

AARP Massachusetts is grateful to Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) for their support of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.  AARP strongly urges the House to pass the RAISE Family Caregivers Act this year to recognize, assist, include, support and engage family caregivers. Many Americans have been or will be family caregivers or are likely to need the help of one to live independently in their homes and communities.

AARP urges you to call your US Representative at 202-224-3121 and ask for their support of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.

Mike Festa is the State Director, AARP Massachusetts.