Supporters of a bill that seeks to provide some assistance for North Dakota's thousands of unpaid family caregivers are hoping that the legislation will be restored when it comes before a Senate committee Tuesday morning.
The CARE Act already has been approved by the House, but Josh Askvig, associate state director of advocacy for AARP North Dakota, said the version House lawmakers passed gutted the original language. "Now, unfortunately during that process on the House side, they amended the bill into a what we feel is an unrelated study on home and community-based services - which is great," he said, "but they've already studied home and community-based services and we're really focusing on those individuals who provide the uncompensated care."
The original version of the CARE Act requires that the name of a family caregiver be recorded upon a person being admitted into a hospital, and then that caregiver be notified when the loved one is going to be discharged home or transferred to another setting. Askvig said the act also would require that facilities provide instructions and demonstrations on complex medical tasks to be performed at home such as medication management, wound care and injections.
"We're trying to help make sure they have the tools and resources and knowledge to do it correctly," he said, "so that their loved ones, when they come home, can stay home rather than risking a hospital readmission, or hopefully not progressing into some sort of worse situation."
Askvig said polling shows that more than 80 percent of North Dakotans age 45 and older support all of the main provisions of the CARE Act. According to the latest figures, there are now nearly 110,000 people in the state providing unpaid care for a family member.
CARE Act information is online at states.aarp.org. The survey is at AARP.org.