Capitol Correspondence - 10.31.23

Bipartisan Effort Seeks to Alleviate Barriers for Family Caregivers

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A new bipartisan initiative, the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers (ABC) Act (S. 3109), has been introduced by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). This legislation aims to streamline and simplify processes for family caregivers and alleviate the administrative burden they face in supporting seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Family caregivers play a vital role in providing care and support to their loved ones, serving as advocates for seniors and individuals with disabilities. In the United States, there are over 48 million family caregivers. However, many of these caregivers encounter challenges when dealing with forms, paperwork, and eligibility for services. Reports indicate that one-in-four family caregivers struggle with these administrative tasks while juggling numerous responsibilities, leading to emotional, physical, and financial stress.

Senator Markey, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, emphasized the importance of addressing the challenges faced by family caregivers. He shared a personal connection to caregiving, stating, “When my mother suffered from Alzheimer’s, my father was her caregiver. Caregivers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s health care system, giving our families and friends the care and support they need to remain in their homes and communities with their loved ones. However, our aging and disabled community members can’t get the care they need if their caregivers – the backbone of their treatment – are struggling to navigate complex, burdensome, and stressful processes each and every day while also still managing day-to-day family and professional responsibilities. The Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act will help lift the weight off caregivers by clearing the red tape that so often gets in their way.”

Senator Capito, who also has firsthand experience as a caregiver for her parents, echoed the sentiment, recognizing the challenges that family caregivers face. She emphasized the importance of easing administrative burdens to ensure caregivers can provide the necessary support without delay or hindrance.

The Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers (ABC) Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Social Security Administration (SSA), and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to review their eligibility criteria, processes, procedures, forms, and communications. This review aims to reduce the administrative hurdles faced by family caregivers. Furthermore, the legislation mandates that CMS, SSA, and CHIP provide annual reports to Congress detailing any challenges they encounter and the steps they are taking to support family caregivers.

The ABC Act has garnered support from various Senators, including Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) as well as endorsed by disability and aging organizations, including ANCOR.