In just a few weeks, Indiana will mark a very important four-year anniversary. On January 1, 2016, House Enrolled Act 1265, also known as the CARE Act, was passed into law. The acronym CARE stands for Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable. As of this writing, 40 states have enacted CARE legislation.
The original initiative was introduced to state legislatures by AARP back in 2014. Under this law, hospital systems are required to recognize caregivers as part of a patient’s overall health team, providing information to those caregivers before their loved ones are discharged from the hospital.
How does the system work?
Each patient is asked whether he or she wishes to name a family caregiver.
The caregiver’s name is recorded in the patient’s medical record.
When the patient is about to be discharged from the hospital, the caregiver is notified.
The caregiver is provided with education and instruction on the medical or nursing tasks that will need to be performed at home.
November is actually National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and honor family caregivers. It’s a time to remember just why the CARE Act is so important. The statistics are staggering: More than 90,000,000 Americans serve as family caregivers for their loved ones. Six out of ten of those juggle everyday tasks, managing their own household responsibilities and caring for their own children, all while advocating for their elderly loved ones.
But what of the patients who have not named a family caregiver? In 2018, as I explained in my 2018 Estate Planning and Elder Law Update presentation, the Indiana Code concerning healthcare was changed by House Bill 1191. When a patient is incapable of making a health care decision and has not named a health care representative, the law requires the health care provider (hospital or facility) to examine medical records and personal effects to try to locate and contact persons who can act as healthcare representatives for those patients.
Meanwhile, at Geyer Law, we caution every client that they should name a attorney in fact while they are in sound health, in advance of an unexpected incapacitation. The attorney in fact role will be to make key financial, medical, and lifestyle decisions on their behalf (but only if and when the clients become unable to do so on their own).
As the four-year anniversary of CARE Act approaches, we honor family caregivers – and honor ourselves by making sure our own contingency plans are in place.
– by Rebecca W. Geyer