4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018

4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018

Simmering issues important to all older Americans and their families, like health and financial security, may escalate to a full boil in many state Capitols in 2018.

Facing these challenges and opportunities head-on, AARP is already exhaustively at work throughout the country, fighting for the issues that matter and driving an innovative agenda focused on commonsense solutions without the clutter of partisanship.

Last year, AARP State Offices achieved huge successes, including new supports for family caregivers, greater access to home and community based services, and new ways to save for retirement. This year, we will continue to find ways to better enable more people to live and age as they choose.

Among our top priorities:

Supporting Family Caregivers
About 40 million family caregivers represent the backbone of our country’s care system, providing hours of unpaid care to their loved ones every day. Over the past two years, AARP state offices have worked with state legislators and governors to enact more than 150 new laws that support these unsung heroes.

In 2018, AARP will continue to support family caregivers and their loved ones by advancing laws and policies that:

  • Provide information about the medical or nursing tasks that family caregivers will be asked to perform when their loved ones are discharged from the hospital. The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act promotes family caregiver involvement, notification and instruction, and has been enacted in nearly 40 states already.
  • Reduce the financial burden for family caregivers through a tax credit.
  • Ensure Advanced Practice Registered Nurses can use the full extent of their education and training, and allow nurses to delegate certain medical tasks to home care workers.
  • Provide family caregivers with a much-needed break through greater access to respite care services.
  • Help family caregivers manage personal or property decisions through comprehensive adult guardianship and power of attorney improvements.
  • Encourage employers to offer workplace flexibility options, such as extending paid leave and allowing employees to use sick leave for caregiving responsibilities.
  • Create or modify a home care provider registry to enable public access to home care information and availability.
  • Remove barriers to telehealth services such as outdated regulations and policies, in order to expand access to care, improve the quality and reduce the cost of care, and create greater convenience for patients and their family caregivers.

Strengthening Home and Community Based Services
AARP knows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to stay in their homes and communities. That’s why AARP is urging state policymakers to improve home and community based support for older adults and Americans living with disabilities by:

  • Lowering costs and improving access.
  • Providing greater choice of settings, providers and services.
  • Enhancing quality of life and quality of care.
  • Increasing effective transitions to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and institutionalizations.

Accessing Retirement Plans at Work
Half of all U.S. families have zero saved for retirement, and 55 million Americans do not have access to retirement saving plans at work. That’s why AARP will continue advocating for Work and Save plans to increase access to workplace savings options and remove barriers for small businesses that want to offer retirement savings plans to their employees.

Ensuring Utility Services are Affordable
All across the country, families count on utility services to warm and cool their homes, keep their lights on, and access the technology to connect with loved ones—as well as police and fire in case of emergency. AARP strives to save utility customers money by fighting for affordable, reliable, and safe energy and telecommunications services. 

In addition, this year, AARP will also continue fighting to: extend Medicaid coverage; lower the costs of prescription drugs; protect pension benefits and retirement income; strengthen communities for all ages; and combat financial exploitation and elder abuse.

To stay up to date on our work in your state, and nationwide, sign up for our e-alerts AARP Advocates e-newsletter, follow me on Twitter @roamthedomes, or visit your state Web page.

Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.

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Family Caregivers Need Support From Hospital to Home

Family Caregivers Need Support From Hospital to Home

Having a loved one in the hospital can be a stressful and emotional experience — especially if you don’t have the support you need. Each day, 40 million family caregivers help older parents, spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones live independently at home. They help with bathing and dressing, manage finances, stand by their loved one’s side when they go into the hospital, care for them when they return home, and so much more.

Some family caregivers, like Jerry, who cared for his wife, Faith, receive the support they need to smooth out the transition from hospital to home.

“Prior to discharge the charge nurse told me I would need to watch and listen, because I would be the caregiver at home. My wife had shoulder replacement, so I needed to know how to assist in removing and attaching the shoulder brace. She reviewed all medications with me as far as to when my wife needed to take them etc. She changed my wife’s dressing and told me to do it the same way and told me I needed to go to a pharmacy and purchase 4″ x 4″ gauze and 2 in. wide paper tape. She made sure I understood it was paper tape so the tape didn’t irritate the skin etc.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the experience of all family caregivers.

Mary didn’t receive instructions on her mother, Eartha’s, medications after a hospital stay. After a medication that was supposed to be short term was given to Eartha long term, she suffered irreversible kidney damage. Mary was then given the choice to put her 82-year-old mother on dialysis or take her home on hospice.

When Cheryl’s husband Alphus was discharged, the family was given no instruction on the medical tasks they needed to perform, including managing multiple medications and cleaning his PICC line. Cheryl learned by trial and error — and unfortunately one of these errors led to Alphus being hospitalized, again.

The consequences can be grave when family caregivers don’t have the support they need as their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

That’s why AARP developed a model bill called the CARE Act, short for Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act. This commonsense, no-cost solution is now law in 32 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CARE Act calls upon hospitals to:

  1. Record the name of the family caregiver when a loved one enters the hospital.
  2. Notify the family caregiver prior to the loved one’s discharge.
  3. Provide the family caregiver simple instruction of the medical tasks they will be performing when their loved one returns home — like managing medication.


State update
As the 2017 state legislative sessions progress, states continue work to pass the CARE Act:

  • In Kansas, Kentucky, Montana and North Dakota, the CARE Act has passed one chamber of the state legislature and is being considered by the second chamber.
  • In Iowa and Missouri, the bill has been introduced in the state legislature.
  • In Tennessee, regulations are in progress that would put the CARE Act into effect.

In the states that have already passed the CARE Act, we’re educating family caregivers about this new law and how it can help them when a loved one goes into the hospital. We’re also continuing our advocacy by making sure caregivers know whom to contact if their loved one doesn’t receive the benefits of the CARE Act, and we are making sure that state agencies are notifying hospitals about the law and are effectively implementing it. In addition, we’re studying how leading hospitals are putting the CARE Act into action and sharing these promising practices with others hospitals.

Stay tuned throughout the year for more updates on how the CARE Act is helping family caregivers nationwide.

Check out where your state stands

Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.

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