Oct 192011

In a factsheet from AARP’s Public Policy Institute, Lynn Feinberg and Allison M. Reamy  detail how provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will lead to better recognition of and support for family or informal caregivers. An estimated 40 million Americans are family caregivers, and provide everything from help with transportation to assistance with daily living. As boomers age, the need for caregivers will grow tremendously—but their numbers will note. It is essential that we have public policies that address the social, financial, and health care realities of people who are family caregivers. The ACA takes a step in that direction.

Noting that the ACA explicitly mentions the term “caregiver” 46 times, and “family caregiver” 11 times, the authors are hopeful in their analysis of how caregivers might benefit from programs and policies enacted under various sections of the Act. In particular, they note that progress will be made in four critical areas: engaging individuals and families in shared decision making and addressing family experience of care; recognizing caregivers as part of the care team in new models of care;  improving education and training not only of the health care workforce, but of family caregivers; and improving support for services at home and in the community.

Of special note is the effect Section 3026, the Community-Based Care Transitions Program, will affect the lives of caregivers.  Under that program, grantees will have to carry out at least one transitional care intervention, which could include any of several scenarios, with a focus on engaging beneficiaries and their caregivers. Topics might include discharge education, help to ensure timely follow-up appointments  with post-hospital and outpatient providers, self-management education, and help with comprehensive medication review and management.

The entire factsheet is available free and online at: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/ltc/fs239.pdf

Key Words: care transitions, Section 3026, public policy, health care reform, ACA, family caregivers

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