|We plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 1368 of last session, legislation aimed at improving the Family Caregiver Support Act.
The Senate Aging & Youth Committee held an informational meeting earlier this year (September) where Department of Aging officials and local Area Agency on Aging directors highlighted the need for several revisions to the Caregiver Support Program (CSP) to enhance the services provided to families and caregivers. The goal of the program is to provide assistance and support to caregivers in an effort to enhance their well-being, reduce stress and strengthen their caregiving relationship.
Our measure seeks to update the Caregiver Support Program in the following ways:
1) Removes the statutory Caregiver Support Program (CSP) monthly care plan cost cap, allowing it to be set by the department.
2) Removes the $300 monthly aggregate average reimbursement limit for all CSP cases.
- The standard monthly care plan cost cap has not been increased since 1993. The financial impacts to caregivers, especially grandparents raising grandchildren due to the opioid crisis, have steadily risen over the past 25 years. In addition, the current cap of $200 often serves as a disincentive to potential program participants. With the statutory cap lifted, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) can raise the cap to more accurately reflect current caregiving costs.
3) Removes the CSP home modification lifetime limit, allowing it to be set by the department.
- The $300 aggregate average requirement has significantly hampered the Area Agencies on Aging’s (AAAs) efforts to provide more assistance to current participants as well as serve a greater number of potential program participants. Nearly half of all AAAs return CSP funds each year. If the $300 aggregate were removed, some of these AAAs would be able to serve more caregivers and provide adequate reimbursement.
4) Updates terminology and definitions
- The current caregiver lifetime maximum of $2,000 for the reimbursement of home modifications and assistive devices presents difficulties, given the present contractor and equipment costs. This limit has not changed since 1993. AAAs have reported that contractors are often unwilling to bid on low-cost jobs and the reimbursement amount available to caregivers prohibits them from securing the higher cost work needed to adequately address their care receiver’s needs. A more realistic lifetime limit may help AAAs better utilize unspent CSP funding.
The above changes to the Act are needed to better align the state and federal programs, remove barriers to utilizing the program, and provide more flexibility to effectively administer the program. This measure is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, the Alzheimer's Association and AARP Pennsylvania.
- The current Act uses the term “victim of Alzheimer’s,” which is outdated and not currently accepted terminology. Language has been updated to refer to individuals as “living with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders.”
- The PA Family Caregiver Support Act is modeled after the federal Caregiver Support Act under the Older Americans Act (OAA). In order to maintain administrative consistencies and to utilize both federal and state dollars, definitions from the OAA have been brought over to the state act, such as “adult,” “care receiver,” “older relative caregiver for a child,” “older relative caregiver for an individual with a disability,” and “primary caregiver.”
Please join us in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.