From out of control prescription drug costs to rising insurance premiums, there are several issues we need to address within our health care system. One important health care issue for many across the country is the lack of respite services for families caring for loved ones with chronic and disabling conditions. Currently, there are over 43 million family caregivers in the United States. Respite programs provide caregivers temporary relief from the full-time task of caregiving so they can enjoy a break and have opportunities to address other responsibilities in their lives.
Family members who provide care for relatives often face a disproportionate strain on their own health and finances. To help alleviate this burden, I introduced the bipartisan Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019, which would authorize $200 million in funding over the next five years to support family caregivers. This funding would provide family caregivers with crucial support services that alleviate stress, improve family wellbeing, and allow them to continue providing care to their loved ones outside of more costly institutional settings, like nursing homes.
I first authored and introduced legislation creating the Lifespan Respite Care Program in 2002 and was the lead Democratic sponsor of the legislation when it was signed into law in 2006. Under current law, states are allocated federal funding to implement, improve, and expand respite care in their communities. This funding has been a critical lifeline for full-time caregivers for years, and I am eager to see the program reauthorized at a higher level of funding to reach more caregivers in need.
To keep up with the latest status on this bill, and for updates on my other legislative priorities, please visit my website and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.