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CMSC Outreach: Caregivers Bill Supports Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Tuesday, February 6, 2018  
Posted by: Elizabeth Porco
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President Donald Trump recently signed the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S 1028/HR 3759, now PL 115-119). The bill seeks to aid in the formation of a national strategy that supports the millions of Americans who are caregivers to loved ones with chronic diseases.
 
The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is projected to increase collaboration between family caregivers, older adults, patients with disabilities, veterans, health care providers, long-term care providers, employers, state and local officials, and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for the national strategy, according to a press release from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.
 
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sens Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Reps Gregg Harper (R-MI) and Kathy Castor (D-FL).
 
“When we work together across party lines we can get things done. This bipartisan effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caretaker as she grew older. I know the challenges that family caregivers face. I’ve listened to family caregivers across Wisconsin,” Sen Baldwin said in a press release. “This reform will provide much-needed support for family caregivers and help ensure that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care in their own homes.
 
“Every day, family caregivers do right by their loved ones, and I am proud to say we are doing right by them with the RAISE Family Caregivers Act being signed into law to formally recognize and support family caregivers across this country.”
 
The National MS Society said that 43 million caregivers provide a large proportion of long-term care, which allows patients with MS to remain at home and avoid being placed into costly long-term services.
 
The AARP previously reported that caregivers provide $470 billion in non-reimbursed care each year, according to the release.
 
“Family caregivers play an essential role in our communities by dedicating time and attention and making countless personal and financial sacrifices to care for their loved ones,” Sen Collins said in the release. “I am delighted that our bipartisan legislation to develop a coordinated strategic plan to leverage our resources, promote best practices, and expand services and training available to caregivers has been signed into law.  Family caregivers across America will now receive the much-needed recognition they deserve as well as the resources and training needed to better balance the full-time job of caregiving along with everything else that life brings.”
 
Although family caregivers play a crucial role in health care, it can take a physical and mental toll on these individuals. Caregivers for patients with MS spend approximately 24 hours per week caring for their loved ones. Of these individuals, 64% report feeling emotionally drained, 32% have depression, and 22% have lost their jobs, according to the release.
 
In light of the potential advancements made by this bill, the National MS Society supports the RAISE Act and the initiative to provide support for family caregivers.
 
The legislation has also received support from more than 60 top organizations, including the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Easter Seals, the National Respite Coalition, and the Paralyzed Veterans Association, according to the release.
 
“Signing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act into law is an important step in supporting the nation’s 40 million family caregivers who take care of loved ones, many of them elderly, often with very little support or resources available to them,” Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, said in the release. “With the rapid growth of our aging population, it’s reasonable to say that many of us will end up either being a caregiver or needing one. As a result, the potential benefits of this legislation are both critical and wide reaching.”

By Laurie Toich

Specialty Pharmacy Times

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