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New Mexico Caregiver Coalition Speaks Out in Support of CARE ACT

March 4, 2015

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC) highlighted the value of all caregivers — paid and unpaid — at “I Heart Caregivers Day” at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe on February 25.

AARP New Mexico organized the event to honor family caregivers and in support of NM House Bill 139. The legislation — also known as the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act — aims to support the 419,000 family caregivers in the state.

The bill requires hospitals to designate a family caregiver and provide information, education, and training to that caregiver before a patient is discharged from the hospital.

“As a care recipient myself, it is time we value the important role of caregivers who need instruction and training,” Meriam Jawhar, a board member of NMDCC and a care recipient, said at the event, according to a press release.

“We have an opportunity — and need to support and strengthen the direct-care workforce,” said NMDCC President and CEO Adrienne Smith, who also spoke at the Capitol. “Today, we call on all those assembled here to show their support for caregivers by talking with your legislators.”

Smith explained that caregivers are still excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as pay for travel time between clients. In January, a U.S. District Court vacated a new U.S. Department of Labor rule that extended basic labor guarantees to these paid caregivers.

There are 20,420 personal care aides and 4,310 home health aide in New Mexico, according to the PHI State Data Center.

— by Deane Beebe

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