Bill seeks to ease hospital transitions

The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Jan. 22 on a bill that seeks to facilitate patient transitions after a hospital stay.

Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford, sponsor of LB849, said the bill would require a hospital to give each patient or the patient’s legal guardian the opportunity to name an individual as a designated caregiver.

Crawford said that many Nebraskans will find themselves in the position of caring for family and friends as the state’s population ages, and lawmakers need to make sure that caregivers have the resources they need to help aging individuals stay in their homes as long as possible.

“Last year over 43 million American adults served as a family caregiver,” she said. “This [bill] ensures that these family caregivers have the tools they need to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.”

Under the bill, if a patient chooses to designate a caregiver, the hospital would be required to notify the caregiver of the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility. In addition, the designated caregiver would be consulted regarding the patient’s discharge plan.

As part of a discharge, the hospital would be required to describe to the designated caregiver a patient’s aftercare needs post-release or transfer, including a description and demonstration of any aftercare tasks.

Mark Intermill, testifying on behalf of AARP, testified in support of the bill.

He cited an AARP survey of Nebrakans over the age of 45, saying two-thirds of them reported being responsible for medical or nursing tasks for a loved one. Of those individuals, he said, 25 percent were not part of the discussions involving their loved one’s discharge from the hospital or aftercare plan.

Intermill said that because fewer Nebraskans are entering nursing homes, unpaid caregivers need to be provided sufficient instruction and support to create a successful transition from hospital to home.

“Many of the nursing tasks that used to be performed at a licensed facility are now performed at home,” he said.

No one testified in opposition to LB849 and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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