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AARP to Congress: Streamline Caregivers’ Access to Health, Financial Programs

senior woman and digital tablet
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En español | AARP on Tuesday backed a bipartisan bill that aims to make it easier for millions of family caregivers to navigate federal health and financial programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

We’re urging Congress to quickly pass the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers (ABC) Act, which would require federal agencies to eliminate red tape and improve customer service for family caregivers who need to access Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for their loved ones.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration to conduct a review of their eligibility processes, procedures, forms and communications and to seek input from family caregivers who interact with these programs. Those agencies would need to report their findings and recommendations to Congress within a year.

A 2020 survey by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving underscores the need for the legislation: 1 in 4 family caregivers said they want help figuring out forms, paperwork and eligibility for services; 26 percent said it was difficult to coordinate care for their loved ones across different providers and services. Nearly three-quarters of caregivers said they experienced emotional stress and more than half reported financial strain, according to a separate AARP poll released in May.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of our nation’s long-term care system, and they are overwhelmed with their responsibilities and time spent managing their loved one’s care,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer. “The Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act could help save family caregivers valuable time and reduce their stress by making it easier to navigate resources, eligibility, benefits and health systems when providing care.”

AARP has made it a top priority to fight for more support for the more than 48 million Americans who help take care of loved ones. This includes better training, respite care, paid leave and tax credits to ease the challenges often experienced by caregivers, who do everything from performing medical tasks to arranging meals and overseeing finances.

Read our letter to Congress and learn more about AARP’s resources for family caregivers. To join our fight for caregivers, sign up for AARP’s online advocacy network.

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