The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, LeadingAge and 72 other national organizations, in a June 28 letter, urged Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to begin “immediate and effective implementation” of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act.

The law, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in January, requires Azar to develop a strategy to support family caregivers within 18 months of enactment, the groups pointed out. “The strategy would identify recommended actions that communities, providers, government, and others are taking and may take to recognize and support family caregivers,” the letter said.

The law also:

  • Establishes a Family Caregiving Advisory Council with private- and public-sector representatives.
  • Outlines specific timetables for action and deliverables.
  • Implements the federal Commission on Long-Term Care’s recommendation that Congress require the development of a strategy to support family caregivers.

“Millions of individuals count on family caregivers every day,” the groups said. “Family caregivers are counting on implementation of this commonsense law.”

In March, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Reps. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) wrote to Azar requesting “swift, comprehensive and thoughtful implementation of the law,” especially the formation of the advisory council, “to give timely advice to the secretary to inform the national strategy and to publish a report within the first year of the law’s enactment.”

Approximately 40 million family caregivers provided $470 billion in uncompensated long-term care in 2013, they said.

The RAISE Act bill had been introduced by Collins and Baldwin. Collins is chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and serves on the Committee on Appropriations; Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Select Committee on Intelligence. Baldwin serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

At the time, the act was supported by a bipartisan coalition of cosponsors, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).