Prieto, Lagana, Andrzejczak, Benson & Mazzeo Bill to Boost After-Hospital Care Gains Final Legislative Approval

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Speaker Vincent Prieto, Joseph Lagana, Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Daniel Benson and Vincent Mazzeo to help boost the quality of care delivered to patients at home after they leave the hospital was approved 72-0 on Monday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

“The follow-up care required after a hospital stay can be incredibly complicated and overwhelming for the average person,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “By having hospitals work cooperatively with a patient’s preferred caregiver, we can ensure that they’re getting the level of care they need from the person they feel most comfortable with.”

The bill (A-2955) would require general acute care hospitals to provide patients and their legal guardians with opportunities to designate a caregiver following a patient’s entry into the hospital.

A caregiver is someone, such as a relative, spouse, partner, friend, or neighbor, who provides after-care assistance to a patient in the patient’s residence. The types of after-care assistance provided may include assisting with basic activities of daily living, administering medication, providing wound care and other tasks as determined to be appropriate by the discharging physician or another licensed health care professional. The bill requires hospitals to provide caregivers with training and instruction in non-technical language so that they may carry out after-care assistance tasks described in the patient’s discharge plan.

“Many times, the sensitive nature of a person’s illness makes them inclined to want treatment from somebody they are familiar and comfortable with,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill would help by requiring hospitals to work with the caregiver to prepare them.”

“Follow-up care after a hospital stay can often be long and intense,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This measure will help ensure that patients are getting the care they need from somebody they know and trust.”

“Many family members or friends, no matter how well-intentioned, are not trained to provide the necessary level of medical care needed after many types of hospital stays,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill will ensure that they’re properly trained while also creating a solid support network to provide consistent follow-up care.”

“Patients receiving at-home care must be comfortable with their caregivers,” said Mazzeo (D- Atlantic). “This legislation ensures that whomever they choose as a caregiver will be given the proper training and support to do the job.”

An estimated $17 billion in Medicare funds is spent on unnecessary hospital readmissions, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The bill’s sponsors noted that equipping caregivers to assist patients at home can help reduce these costs.

The measure was approved 36-0 last Monday in the Senate.