January 26, 2018

Rep. Corey introduces bill to allow those with debilitating conditions to hire spouses as caregivers

Rep. Corey, Linda Gregoire, John Gregoire, Sen. Diamond
Rep. Patrick Corey of Windham has introduced LD 1708; legislation that would allow Medicaid recipients suffering from debilitating diseases to hire spouses as caregivers. Currently, family members, with the exception of spouses, can be hired to perform these tasks.

When it comes to people who have been diagnosed with diseases like ALS, their care is extremely personal in nature and requires a great deal of trust on the patient’s behalf. Pay for these tasks is lower than we would all like, slightly above $10/hour, and the jobs performed are demanding, leading to high turnover in this field. The natural caregiver or spouse is really the backstop at hours when someone cannot be there. 

While spouses are currently uncompensated for care they provide, there are financial impacts that go beyond the most obvious including: gaps in their work history, fewer quarters paid into Social Security, a lack of benefits including health insurance and retirement programs that come with a job, and professional isolation. This doesn’t take into account the extreme physical and psychological burdens these spouses face.

http://www.mwamconcerts.com/“Keeping patients at home in the long-run costs the taxpayers less, which is a win, but a bigger win is for the families that get to remain together,” said Rep. Corey. “I know that this is a challenging issue and we want to make sure that resources are used appropriately and that people in unfortunate situations are provided the very best care we can provide. I’d like to argue that keeping families together by making it so that spouses aren’t specifically excluded is part of the answer.”

“This bill is very important and long overdue,” said Sen. Bill Diamond (D) of Windham, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It’s time spouses qualify as caregivers when a spouse is in need.”

Rep. Corey was approached by constituents he found to be remarkably inspiring. John Gregoire and
his spouse Linda are true advocates for families that have received an ALS diagnosis. Not unlike other debilitating diseases, an ALS diagnosis is a hardship on not just the patient, but the entire family. I spoke with Linda one day and she told me that sometimes they are not in a position to help themselves, but they can certainly help others. This has led John and Linda to create The Hope-IG Foundation where they help families who face the same battles. 

A public hearing on LD 1708 was held earlier this week in the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. A work session is expected to be scheduled in the next few weeks where committee members will take their first votes.

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