Working caregivers get financial support under new Hawaii law

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The Kupuna Caregivers Assistance Act, which was signed into law in the summer and went into effect in December, will give about 154,000 Hawaiian employees financial reprieve.

Employees working more than 30 hours a week while also caring for an elderly relative will receive a daily stipend of up to $70 to offset elder care costs, per the new law. The money can be used on anything that helps the caregiver meet his or her responsibilities without having to sacrifice work. That can include adult day care, chore services, home-delivered meals, homemaker services, personal care, respite care or transportation.

Those employees must also provide care to a U.S. citizen or qualified undocumented person who is 60 years or older, not covered by any comparable governmental or private home and community-based care service, doesn’t reside in a long-term care facility and has at least two impairments that affect daily living and instrumental activities or substantive cognitive impairment requiring substantial supervision, according to the law.

“In this way, a caregiver does not have to choose between staying fully employed or providing adequate care for their loved one,” according to Care4Kupuna’s website. “This program isn’t meant to cover a stay in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or an assisted living home. This bill would fund up to $70 a day for the respite that working family caregivers need in order to stay active in the workforce while caring for their kupuna [elder] at home.”

Hawaii, the state with the longest life expectancy, is the first in the U.S. to implement a direct subsidy for long-term care.

See also: Elder care benefits meet a growing need at BofA

The stipend comes from the state’s general fund and is administered by the Executive Office on Aging; it is separate from Kupuna Care, a state program designed to help non-Medicaid-eligible elderly residents stay in their home or community.

One of the largest lobbyist groups in the country for the rights of the elderly, AARP, calls the Kupuna Caregivers Assistance Act “a landmark law” and says it will “ease the financial, physical and emotional stress on these caregivers.”

The nonprofit notes that the program has been funded at $600,000 for one year beginning in 2018 and aims to help caregivers avoid quitting their jobs and jeopardizing their own financial future to take care of their elderly family members.

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