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Action Needed to Help Family Caregivers

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My 94-year old mother is and always has been a force in our family’s life. She has known the names of all her grandchildren’s friends since nursery school, and she can be counted on to lead the standing ovation at their plays or games. Even as her health begins to falter, we know her love for us is resolute.   

Susan K. Neely

President and CEO, American Council of Life Insurers

No one knows your parents and loved ones like you do, which is why addressing the needs of an aging parent can be so hard. The truth is, many of us will likely find ourselves in the role of a caregiver, not once, but many times, whether to our children or aging parents. And whether we intend it to or not, caregiving can have an impact our own long-term financial security.


My brother and I are fortunate to have a way to care for our mother without sacrificing the needs of the rest of the family. But many are not so lucky. That’s because the United States is the only industrialized nation without comprehensive leave for new parents, mothers and fathers caring for sick children, and sons and daughters caring for aging loved ones. As a result, millions of working adults have to make a difficult choice between becoming family caregivers and earning a paycheck. It shouldn’t be that way.

That’s why I am encouraged by recent actions in individual states aimed at helping people address this challenge. 

Family caregivers are finding solutions

In Virginia, groundbreaking legislation, overwhelmingly passed by the legislature and signed by Republican governor Glenn Youngkin in April this year, makes family leave plans a type of insurance that employers can purchase for their employees. This first-of-its-kind solution paves the way for employers in the state to expand access to paid family leave benefits and is a model for advancing paid family leave for workers nationwide.  


In May, Delaware’s Democratic governor John Carney enacted legislation creating a statewide public-private partnership that will provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave after the birth of a child and six weeks of paid leave for family caregiving. Employers can participate by contributing to the state program via a payroll tax or by offering private insurance as an employee benefit.  

Both laws are examples of how to leverage the experience of the private insurance market to provide workers with paid family and medical leave solutions. By building on and expanding the existing employer-based system, insurers, employers, and government can expand access to these solutions beyond the nearly 62 million Americans who already benefit from employer-based paid leave. 

These actions are based on the principle that family comes first. And by protecting workers’ income, they allow people to take the time they need to care for a loved one like only they can.

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