Legislation Supporting Family Caregivers Introduced in U.S. Congress
June 3, 2016 01:05 PM
Members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives recently introduced legislation that would provide crucial financial support to unpaid family caregivers. The Credit for Caring Act (S. 2759/H.R. 4708) would establish a nonrefundable tax credit for individuals who spend more than $2,000 on caregiving expenses per year worth up to $3,000 per year. Sen. Tester’s office said the legislation would help families pay for home modifications and medical supplies, in addition to reimbursing family caregivers for sacrifices they have made including lost wages and unpaid time off to provide care.
Both bills were introduced with bipartisan support. The House legislation was introduced in March by Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA), and it is cosponsored by Reps. Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. and David N. Cicilline (D-RI). The Senate legislation was introduced in April by Senators Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and it is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
Sen. Tester, on June 1, 2016, held a press conference in Montana to discuss the importance of the legislation. "As parents and spouses age, many folks are forced to prioritize their role as a primary caretaker for their loved ones," Sen. Tester said. "This bill provides family caregivers with more financial certainty, which will increase the quality of care they can provide, and allow seniors to remain in their own homes. Establishing this tax credit is good for families, good for seniors, and good for our economy."
In announcing the legislation, Sen. Tester was joined by Kathleen Burke who spoke about the importance of the legislation based on her experience as a caregiver to her parents and grandparents with Alzheimer’s. "As a caregiver, I support this legislation that provides tax credits for families so seniors can stay in their own homes. Thank you Senator Tester for identifying ways to help family caregivers cope with the financial impact of devastating diseases such as Alzheimer's," she said.
Sen. Tester highlighted that in the U.S. nearly 12 million people are in need of long-term care and family caregivers spend an estimated 30 billion hours caring for older family and friends each year without receiving any compensation.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has a long-held position in support of improved caregiver support through promoting respite care and tax incentives for family caregivers. In addition, NAHC recently expressed support for a proposal announced by U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last year increasing support for family caregivers (see previous NAHC Report article here).