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

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En español | AARP wrote a letter to U.S. House members this week strongly supporting a bill that aims to make it easier for millions of family caregivers to navigate federal health and financial programs on behalf of their loved ones.

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

The House bill, introduced April 16, would direct the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration to review their eligibility processes, procedures, forms and communications and seek input from family caregivers who interact with these programs. The agencies must report their findings and recommendations to Congress within a year.

A companion bill, also endorsed by AARP, was introduced in the Senate last October.

A 2020 survey by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found more than half of family caregivers engaged with government agencies, community services and care providers on behalf of their loved one. The same survey found 1 in 4 family caregivers said they want help figuring out how to complete forms, fill out paperwork and determine eligibility for services.

A separate AARP poll released in 2023 found nearly three-quarters of caregivers reporting feeling emotional stress. More than half experienced financial strain.

“This bill could help save family caregivers valuable time and reduce the stress they face in their caregiving role,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer, wrote in the letter.

She noted that caregivers provide an estimated $600 billion in unpaid labor each year, saving taxpayers billions. “Without them,” she wrote, “America’s health and long-term care systems would collapse.”

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 backing state and federal legislation to provide them with better training, paid leave, tax credits and opportunities for respite care.

Read our letter to House lawmakers 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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