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New IA Legislature Means New Push for Caregivers' Bill

It's estimated that 65 percent of family caregivers in Iowa manage medical tasks and oversee medications for loved ones who are older or ill. (aarp.org)
It's estimated that 65 percent of family caregivers in Iowa manage medical tasks and oversee medications for loved ones who are older or ill. (aarp.org)
December 12, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa - An effort will be renewed next month to convince legislators that Iowa needs a law requiring that when patients get out of the hospital, their caregivers receive comprehensive information to help them at home.

Supporters of the Iowa CARE Act are citing a new poll from AARP Iowa that shows 96 percent of current family caregivers in the state believe it's "extremely" or "very" important that they receive instruction on medical tasks required when a loved one is discharged. The CARE Act did not win support in the last session, making Iowa one of only 13 states without such a law.

AARP state director Brad Anderson called the act a common-sense protection.

"Nearly every Iowan we surveyed says it's very important for this to be required," he said. "Ninety-one percent of Iowans said, 'Hospitals should be required to keep caregivers in the loop on major decisions.' And it makes sense that Iowans would support this in a big way."

The AARP survey polled 800 registered voters across the state age 40 or older. Gov. Kim Reynolds previously has expressed support for the CARE Act.

Anderson said the CARE Act would require that hospitals record the name of a patient's designated family caregiver upon admission, and keep that person informed of any discharge plans.

"And then, it also requires hospitals to instruct the caregiver on medical tasks that need to be performed at home," he said. "It is very, very common sense. Most states have something like this on the books. Iowa does not, which makes it all the more important that we get it done this year."

Anderson said there are 317,000 family caregivers across Iowa who provide care valued at nearly $4 billion a year.

"Our survey estimates about 295 million hours each year that Iowans spend on caregiving," he said.

The AARP survey indicated that about one in four Iowa family caregivers did not receive instruction or a live demonstration of follow-up care when their loved one was released from a hospital.

The survey is online at states.aarp.org.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA