In early February, Senate President Martin M. Looney joined with legislators, AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut to advocate passage of a bill that will help to ensure caregivers receive the information and training they need to care for their loved ones at home. On May 7, the bill passed in the senate with bipartisan support.
Senate Bill 290, the CARE (Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable) Act, will help to guarantee that caregivers are given follow-up care instructions when a patient is discharged from the hospital and to reduce costly hospital readmissions.
According to the AARP, more than 700,000 Connecticut residents provide care to their loved ones with tasks such as bathing, dressing, finances, transportation and medical care.
The total economic impact of this unpaid care is estimated to be $5.8 billion. Passage of the CARE Act would support family caregivers and promote aging in place by improving care transitions and preventing costly hospital readmissions.
The CARE Act was developed by the AARP to help to ensure caregivers receive the information and training they need to care for their loved ones at home. Specifically, the CARE Act requires hospitals to do the following:
Oklahoma and New Jersey passed the CARE Act in 2014, and Hawaii created a task force to look at the issue. Legislation is currently being considered in several other states.
As medical care has evolved, more patients are leaving the hospital soon after surgery and other medical procedures. In many instances, these patients require continued medical care—such as medications, injections and wound care—after they return home, and the responsibility for ensuring that the patients receive this care falls on the patient’s loved ones.
Unfortunately, many caregivers feel unprepared to perform the medical tasks necessary to keep their loved ones out of the hospital and in the community. A recent AARP report found that many caregivers providing medical care to their loved ones feared that they would make a mistake and would like more training to perform medical tasks.
By ensuring that caregivers receive information and training, the CARE Act could potentially reduce costly hospital readmissions. This is particularly timely because the federal government recently began a program that penalizes hospitals for certain readmissions.
Specifically, under the Affordable Care Act, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Through this program, CMS is required to reduce Medicare payments to hospitals that have excess readmissions within 30 days of discharge. 75 percent of Connecticut hospitals were penalized under the program in 2013. Improving care transitions by providing more support to family caregivers could help reduce these readmissions.