October 1, 2020 Press Releases

WATCH: Mark Kelly Joins Arizona Caregivers and Advocates for Virtual Roundtable Discussion

Yesterday, Mark Kelly joined Arizona caregivers and advocates for a roundtable discussion to talk about the challenges that caregivers face during this pandemic. The group discussed how Washington can support families caring for their loved ones, including the importance of providing paid medical and family leave.

They also discussed specific issues like the difficulties that members of the Navajo Nation face in getting care for family members, how to best equip families to care for aging Arizonans, and tax incentives to support families taking care of their loved ones.

Watch full video of the roundtable HERE.

Here are some highlights from the roundtable:

On what Congress can do for caregivers

MARK KELLY [34:27]: It’s clear that we owe our caregivers something better when it comes to being able to protect their own jobs and ensuring their own financial stability. Hearing the challenges that Juanita is facing, and Ashley and Katie, the folks that you work with— these remind me of why I’m running for the U.S. Senate. If I have the honor of being elected, I’m going to work to try to expand paid family leave and offer tax relief for informal caregivers, making sure that Arizonans have the resources they need to take care of their families.

JUANITA LEE, NAVAJO NATION CAREGIVER [16:05]: We would like to have a home health agency established on the Navajo reservation so that Navajo people who have Medicare can access home health care, because they do have home health care, but it’s only if you live in Flagstaff or Page and we are out of that service area.

ASHLEY BRIDWELL, PROGRAM COORDINATOR AT BARROW NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE [20:45]: If we had a better system […] to help keep these family members together and in the care and the quality of the home, a paid family member can make a living and be able to support their own family as far as looking at the sandwich generation — where we’re starting to see people take care of their children and their parents. […] And we know it saves us money and we know that it’s a better quality of life, and it’s just better for everybody all around.

KATIE BETHELL, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PL+US [32:22]: [One thing that we could get done] is a national paid family and medical leave policy. This is a program that exists in eight states today — it’s a simple social insurance, just like Social Security or unemployment. It would be available to every family. When you need to take leave to take care of someone in your family, to welcome a new child to your family, or recover from your own serious illness. This also includes time to recover from or escape domestic violence situations. This also includes time for military families. So, it’s a big, inclusive policy that can make sure that people get the income they need when life hits them upside the head.

On the challenges Arizonans face in getting care

JUANITA LEE, NAVAJO NATION CAREGIVER [14:45]: We looked into my husband’s Medicare benefits and found out that it does include home health care, but that we must follow certain credentials. We must use certified and skilled nurses and have a need for other physical, occupational, or speech therapy, which my husband gets at Winslow Indian Health Services. It is difficult to find certified and skilled nurses on the reservation — and we must also have a doctor’s referral to get on this Medicare in-home care service.

ASHLEY BRIDWELL, PROGRAM COORDINATOR AT BARROW NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE [19:05]: One of the things that is preventing a lot of family members from being paid to care for their family member at home is the amount of income — you have to have below $2,000 in resources and have less than around $1,900 in monthly income, which prevents a lot of people from qualifying for a program that would then pay a family member to actually care to keep the disabled or sick family member in the home. And we know, just looking at the fiscal part of it, that it costs less money to keep somebody in their home versus institutionalizing them and having them in nursing facilities. And we also know that people have a much better quality of life when they get to stay at home and they get to be with family members. 

Watch the full video HERE.