Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), introduced the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2017, legislation to support the health and wellbeing of family caregivers. Their bipartisan bill would authorize $15 million per year over the next five years for the Lifespan Respite Care program, which allows full-time caregivers to take a temporary break from their responsibilities caring for aging or disabled loved ones.
“Family caregivers are an invaluable resource to our society, devoting enormous time and attention and making tremendous personal and financial sacrifices to care for their loved ones. This task, however, can take a toll. Caregivers experience higher rates of acute and chronic health conditions, and far too many caregivers don’t receive the support they need in their caregiving role,” said Senator Collins. “That is why respite care, which provides caregivers with a temporary break from their responsibilities, is so essential. Our legislation would give family caregivers and their loved ones the support they need by ensuring that quality respite is available and accessible.”
“Every day, family caregivers in Wisconsin and across our country tend to the needs of their loved ones,” said Senator Baldwin. “Although this work can be very rewarding, it can also be emotionally and physically challenging. This legislation will help ensure continued funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program so that our family caregivers can access the support and relief they need.”
Respite care protects the health of caregivers, decreases the need for professional long-term care, and allows individuals who require care to remain at home. To date, 35 states have received funding through the Lifespan Respite Care program. The program provides competitive grants to states to establish or enhance statewide respite resources and help ensure that quality respite is available and accessible to all family caregivers.
The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act was endorsed by 38 aging and disability organizations including the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, and Easterseals. The organizations wrote a letter to Senators Collins and Baldwin as well as to Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gregg Harper (R-MS), who introduced a companion bill in the House, strongly expressing their support.
“We, the undersigned national organizations representing all ages and disabilities, are writing to offer our fervent support for and endorsement of the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act being [introduced] to reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Program at $15 million a year for five years,” the organizations wrote. “We thank you for your commitment to individuals living with disabilities, older individuals in need of assistance and support, and the loved ones who care for them and we look forward to continuing to work with you as the bill moves forward.”
There are 43 million family caregivers in the United States that provide an estimated $470 billion in uncompensated care each year.