Senate Passes Bill Expanding Access To Respite Care
Lawmakers are pressing ahead with a plan to increase federal funding to support respite care for families of those with disabilities and other special needs.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill this week known as the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019, or S.995, which would authorize $50 million over the next five years for the Lifespan Respite Care Program, a system of community-based respite care services across the country.
The bipartisan measure would renew an existing law that dates back to 2006 and boost spending on the effort to $10 million annually. Traditionally, the program has received just $2.5 million each year.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
To date, the federal government has provided grants to 37 states and Washington, D.C. through the respite care program to streamline the delivery of services, coordinate resources and offer training to respite providers and family caregivers.
Backers of the bill note that there are an estimated 45 million family caregivers in the U.S. providing some $470 billion annually in uncompensated care. Most have not used any respite care services at all.
“Respite care is essential to caregivers as it helps to reduce mental stress and physical health issues they may experience,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., who introduced the legislation. “With Senate passage of our bill, we are one step closer to giving family caregivers and their loved ones the support they need by ensuring that quality respite is available and accessible.”
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill last summer, but differences between the two versions will need to be reconciled before the legislation can go to the president.