NASHVILLE — State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) guided passage of legislation through the Senate Finance Committee yesterday which aims to help aging caregivers who care for a child or ward with an intellectual disability. Senate Bill 2003 would allow eligible people having an intellectual disability (ID) who are on the waiting list for services from DIDD with custodial parents or caregivers aged 75 and over to enroll into the Self-Determination or similarly capped waiver.
Ketron and Representative Bob Ramsey, who is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives, have been working closely with The Arc Tennessee to secure passage of the “aging caregiver bill”.
In 2015 the original “aging caregiver” law, which was also sponsored by Ketron, passed by the General Assembly requiring DIDD to enroll all eligible people whose caregivers are 80 and over into the Self-Determination Waiver. However, the average life expectancy in Tennessee is only 76.30 years of age. Ketron said many families will not live long enough to take advantage of this assistance.
“After a lifetime of providing continuous support at no cost to the state, these elderly custodial parents and/or custodial caregivers would benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member will have needed services,” said Senator Ketron. “The stress on families caring for a loved one with an intellectual disability is extreme, especially when caregivers are aging parents. Aging parents often have their own healthcare needs that compromise their ability to provide adequate support – putting the person’s health and safety at risk.”
Having an intellectual disability (ID) can significantly impact a person’s capacity to perform day-to-day activities such as eating, dressing, grooming, using the bathroom, finding and maintaining employment, and many other activities most Tennesseans take for granted.
Senator Ketron, Representative Bob Ramsey, and The Arc Tennessee are committed to ensuring that Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens have the supports they need to live safe, healthy and engaged lives in their communities.
“The passage of this legislation will be one step toward reaching that goal,” Ketron added.
The bill now goes to the floor of the Senate for final consideration.