Former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden says the nation is “in the middle of a caregiving crisis” and is calling on lawmakers to pass legislation providing families paid leave as a result.
The journalist and caregiving advocate testified this week during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in support of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The legislation would provide 12 weeks of partial income for family leave. Funding would come through a payroll tax.
“The number of American workers who will need personal medical leave either for themselves or for another family member is only going to increase,” she said, citing statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services that say about half of Americans turning 65 will develop a disability “serious enough that they will require care.”
“We are in the middle of a caregiving crisis, and that is why I so strongly believe that any paid leave policy should address the full range of caregiving needs that families will face,” Lunden said.
“Families everywhere are counting on you, Congress, to enact this type of comprehensive paid family medical leave that will help all of us when we need it the most.”
During her testimony, Lunden recalled her personal experiences of caring for seven children, her mother who suffered from dementia and her late brother who suffered from Type II diabetes. She also recalled how she was grateful that her former employer, ABC, gave her time off after each of her children was born, and allowed her to bring her infant daughter to work.
“Those perks were unheard of at the time,” she said.
Lunden’s testimony is a precursor to her speech at HRE’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, where she will address the caregiving crisis and employers’ role in it. Her keynote address will be April 15 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
“I’m going to be speaking about my own experiences caregiving my mom and my brother,” Lunden says, “also my own healthcare journey, and the important role employers play in the health and wellness of their employees.”
Lunden advocates for caregiving support and brings this experience to her role as the spokesperson for the senior referral service A Place for Mom, a company that helps caregivers and families find the right care and resources for their loved ones.
Registration for HBLC is now open. To sign up, visit benefitsconf.com.