PA Family Caregiver Bill Passes!

On December 13, the PA Senate unanimously passed House Bill 210!  The bill amends the PA Family Caregiver Support Act – “further providing for intent, for definitions, for caregiver support program, for reimbursements and for entitlement not created.”  The bill now goes to Governor Corbett for his signature.  CARIE and many others advocated for years to make improvements to this vital program.  This is the first update to the program since its inception in 1990.  While the bill was amended and doesn’t make all the improvements we asked for, it will go a long way in helping caregivers in Pennsylvania.  The bill updates the definitions of a caregiver to be more reflective of current caregivers and compatible with the federal program.  This will allow funds allocated from the PA lottery to be spent to help more families instead of being left unspent.  In the past two years, the Department of Aging underspent the Lottery funds appropriated to this program by over $1 million each year.  The changes in the definitions will enable the Department of Aging to spend all the funding appropriated to this program.  There is a waiting list of about 450 individuals for the federal program who should be served as a result of this legislation.  The bill also gives AAA’s some latitude in increasing the monthly reimbursement amount up to $500 for hardship cases.  Please extend a special thanks to Representative Matt Baker, Chair of the House Health Committee and prime sponsor of House Bill 210, as well as Senator Kim Ward, Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and prime sponsor of Senate Bill 639, a companion bill in the Senate, for their efforts in getting this legislation passed. Thanks to all advocates who helped with this effort!

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