Home Care and Hospice Cause “Can Be One That Actually Brings Us Together”
United States Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) spoke at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s 2016 March on Washington Senate Breakfast. Sen. Blumenthal is the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a member of the Special Committee on Aging. The Senator was introduced by Ms. Susan F. Adams, Vice President of Alliance Integration, Masonicare in Wallingford, CT. Ms. Adams highlighted Sen. Blumenthal’s record supporting legislation for seniors such as reauthorization of the Older Americans Act and recognizing the critical role of health IT. “In all of his years of public service in Connecticut, he has always been very visible, receptive, and available,” she said.
“As you know, hospice and health care provided to the elderly are more and more on people’s minds as more and more of us grow older,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “The demographics of our nation’s population show that we need to pay attention.” He said this requires a focus on home care and hospice, “not just in the abstract, not just in words,” but through action on key priorities.
Home care and hospice, he said, “cuts across economic and demographic lines.” As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he noted the importance of ensuring quality home care and hospice services for veterans. “Our veteran population is aging perhaps even more than the general population. Veterans’ facilities that used to specialize in certain kinds of illnesses common to veterans now must in fact shift to geriatric and to hospice and anticipating home care. The static nature of veterans’ health care is something that we need to change. We are now considering a measure that I hope will report to the floor that will expand care in the community, care through private providers… who should be held to high standards but at the same time should be engaged in providing more of the home care and hospice and health care that our nation needs so desperately for our veterans. And we owe that to our veterans,” he said.
He also spoke from his perspective as a former federal prosecutor and state Attorney General about the importance of preventing and addressing elder abuse. “Elder abuse can take many different forms. It may be physical, all too often unreported, because of the shame and embarrassment involved and because family members or close friends may be the culprit. It can be financial, equally difficult for seniors to report because of the stigma and shame that may be involved. I have supported a measure called the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, and the key word in my view in that Act is prevention.”
Sen. Blumenthal closed with an optimistic vision, stating that the home care and hospice “cause can be one that actually brings us together. We can join together. And I really welcome your support in this effort to enlist members on both sides of the aisle in addressing this problem and actually taking advantage of it to raise the level of dialogue in this institution.”