Designated Caregiver Act (CARE Act)

10805824_664594536984910_243755314889948545_nIf you or a loved one have ever had to coordinate healthcare following a hospital discharge, you know how confusing and disjointed medical care can be. The transition from the hospital to a rehabilitation center or other care setting is a sensitive time. Medical orders can be dropped. Recommendations can be forgotten or improperly implemented.

Michigan’s legislature attempted to improve the coordination of post discharge care by passing the Designated Caregiver Act (CARE Act). This law, which became affective in July, was a major AARP legislative priority.

The CARE Act gives a hospital patient (or their patient advocate) the right to name a “designated caregiver” with whom the hospital is supposed to coordinate the patient’s hospital discharge and post-hospital care. The patient can also name the caregiver inside of an advance directive.

The jury is out on this law’s effectiveness. On one hand anything that improves communication during a transition in healthcare settings is helpful. On the other hand, the CARE Act does not give the patient or designated caregiver an effective means to force a hospital, insurance company, or any healthcare contractor to recognize the designated caregiver’s authority. Nor does it ensure any particular insurance coverage or support for the designated caregiver’s work.

Our firm has not been advising its clients to update their advanced directives to include this law. If a client already has a patient advocate designation in place, the patient advocate can already do what a designated caregiver is able to do under the CARE Act.

Even though this new law does not appear to have teeth, we are glad to see hospital discharge planning placed into the spotlight. Additionally, this law highlights how important it is to nominate somebody to keep your healthcare providers coordinated