A respite program for family caregivers would receive $10 million annually under a bipartisan bill unanimously passed by voice vote in the Senate on Monday. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019, S.995, written by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), would authorize the funds from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2024. The bill has the support of LeadingAge, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and 50 other national organizations as well as 63 state and local organizations, all of which sent a letter on Monday to Senate leaders and the bill’s sponsors.

“In my conversations with family caregivers, I have found what they need most is respite care, a break from the 24/7 job of caregiving,” Collins said in a statement. “Caregivers provide an estimated $470 billion in uncompensated care each year, yet an astounding 85 percent of caregivers have not received any respite services at all.” There are an estimated 45 million family caregivers in the U.S., she said.

To date, 37 states have received funding through the Lifespan Respite Care program. The program provides competitive grants to states to establish or enhance statewide respite resources and help ensure that quality respite is available and accessible to all family caregivers.

Collins introduced the bill in April 2019. Co-sponsors, in addition to Baldwin, include Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ).

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