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AARP Backs Bill to Help Caregivers Access Loved Ones’ Medicare Info

cheerful young woman helping old person paperwork and telephone call
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En español | AARP applauds U.S. House and Senate lawmakers for introducing bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for family caregivers to interact with Medicare’s customer service helpline on behalf of a loved one.

Many Medicare beneficiaries are not aware that they can fill out a form to allow a family member to access their personal health information through 1-800-MEDICARE. This would allow family caregivers to use the helpline if they have questions about billing, claims or other matters related to their loved one’s benefits.

The AARP-backed Connecting Caregivers to Medicare Act would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to educate beneficiaries and the public about the form and to train helpline operators to provide resources and information to family caregivers. It would require the form and any outreach materials to be available in languages other than English.

The bill was introduced last week by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) in the Senate and Reps. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) and Judy Chu (D-California) in the House.

“America’s family caregivers are holding up a broken long-term care system, and they desperately need support,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer, said in a statement Thursday. “By promoting the 1-800-MEDICARE helpline, we can ensure more family caregivers are aware of this important resource to help their loved ones make the most of their Medicare.”

AARP has made it a top priority to advocate for America’s more than 48 million family caregivers, who do everything from performing medical tasks to arranging meals and overseeing finances for their loved ones. More than 30 percent of family caregivers who coordinate their loved one’s care find it difficult to do so, according to AARP research.

We continue to push for state and federal measures that would ease the strain on these unpaid caregivers. Among other changes, we have advocated for caregivers to receive better training, respite care and paid leave, as well as for tax credits to ease the financial challenges caregivers often experience.

Read our letters to the bill’s House and Senate sponsors, and learn more about AARP’s resources for caregivers.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. Her work has also appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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