How Policy Influences Caregiving – and Vice Versa

A quick purview of healthcare legislation coverage over the past couple decades has tended to focus on two parties: healthcare providers and payors. And with good reason. But with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as corresponding advancement in federally-funded technology support, the patient became another primary player in the equation – also with good reason.

The party consistently left out of the conversation remains the caregiver. And yet, as we’ve previously discussed during National Caregivers Month, the caregiver is often the one making decisions around the care plan followed, as well as managing the details of care post-discharge.  

How Caregiving Gets a Seat at the Table

Several organizations are committed solely to advocating for the caregiver, including A Better Balance, an organization dedicated to leveraging the law to advance the rights of caregivers, so they can “care for themselves and their loved ones – without jeopardizing their economic security.”

Most recently, that includes advocating for legislative action around the support caregivers have identified as most critical, including:

  • Paid family and medical leave: A Better Balance states this is not just for new parents: it can be used by workers to care for a seriously ill or injured loved one as well – and they are lobbying for passage of the Federal FAMILY Act, which extends the right to paid leave at the federal level. 
  • Paid sick time: The Healthy Families Act would allow employees across the country to earn and use seven paid sick days to give them the right to take time off to care for a loved one (as well as to address their own health needs). 
  • Fair and flexible scheduling: The recent Schedules That Work Act was designed to give workers the right to request scheduling changes due to caregiving responsibilities. 

“Not only do these policies benefit caregivers and their families – they help spur a cultural shift,” stated A Better Balance. “Legislation like this can sending the message that caregiving is important and valuable to our society.” 

A Deeper Dive into Caregiver Legislation

This week on our Vital Insights podcast series, we featured an episode with Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), and discussed what legislative action is still needed around widespread telehealth implementation – and how it can benefit caregivers.

As a long-term advocating group for caregivers, the ATA has a special interest group (SIG) called Healthy Aging, which has continued to explore and share how telehealth can support caregivers, how digital technologies can help caregivers better support their loved ones, and what policy implications from such legislative actions such as the CARES Act mean for caregivers broadly.

According to the ATA’s Healthy Aging SIG team, they have “a unique position, viewpoint and membership that sits at the crossroads of digital health, tele(anything), virtual health and remote monitoring. By engaging the full eco-system of membership and strategic partnerships, we can benefit population health management and inform members how to increase access to care and increase patient and caregiver experience across the aging continuum.”

You can learn more about what the ATA is doing to advance the greater implementation of telehealth in our podcast this week with Ann.