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In the program's interviews, several lawmakers mentioned legislation they've introduced, or intend to re-introduce, in the 109thCongress. If you'd like to know more about these legislative efforts to support family caregivers and help the nation prepare for longevity, here are resources to help you monitor their progress and express your viewpoint to your elected representatives.

  • To find out if your Senator or Congressional representative has signed on in support of any of these bills, check the bill's list of co-sponsors at thomas.loc.gov
  • If you'd like to contact your Senator or Congressional Representative, but you're unsure who they are or how to reach them, you can find that information at http://www.house.gov/  or http://www.senate.gov/

    Senior Elder Care Relief and Empowerment Act. SECURE Act. (S.835)
    This bill, introduced April 18, 2005 by Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, would provide taxpayers with a non-refundable tax credit equal to 50% of qualified expenses incurred on behalf of senior citizens above a $1,000 spending floor.

  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
  • Contact Senator Craig: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr041805a.htm

    The Long-Term Care Partnership Act (S.2077)
    Introduced By Sen. Craig at the end of the 108th Congress in 2004. Under this bill, an individual could purchase a long-term care insurance policy approved by their state government, and the state would cover the costs of continuing care through Medicaid, once the senior's insurance benefits have run out--without requiring the individual to "spend down" into poverty. Senator Craig's press office says he is working on reintroducing the Long Term Care Partnership Act for the 109th Congress.

  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
  • Contact Senator Craig: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr041805a.htm

    Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2005 (S.602/ H.R.1262)
    Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) re-introduced the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act in March 2005 with 43 co-sponsors. (originally introduced in the 108th Congress after President Reagan died in 2004.)

    The Senate bill would increase the authorization level for Alzheimer research at NIH to $1.4 billion and expand services for caregivers by increasing funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Alzheimer's Disease Demonstration Grant Program and authorizing a family caregiver tax credit, as well as an above-the-line tax deduction for long term care insurance premiums. The legislation would also authorize a public education campaign to inform individuals about prevention techniques that can maintain the brain during the aging process. Latest Major Action: 3/10/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

    In the House, Representatives Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Edward Markey (D-MA) re-introduced a similar version of the Ronald Reagan bill at the same time. However, the House bill will not incorporate the caregiver tax credit and above-the-line tax deduction for long term care insurance included in the Senate bill. Latest Major Action: 4/18/2005 Referred to House subcommittee on Select Education.

    Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
    Contact Senator Mikulski: http://mikulski.senate.gov/
    Contact Senator Kit Bond: http://bond.senate.gov/
    Alzheimer's Association http://www.alz.org

    National Family Caregiver Support Program
    The National Family Caregiver Support Program, a key component under the Older Americans Act, is currently funded at $163 million. In the 108th Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers called for a doubling of the funding ($250 million) to ensure that all caregiving families have access to a minimum level of support no matter where they live. The 109th Congress will consider reauthorization of the OAA and the NFCSP in September or October of 2005.

  • You may wish to urge your Congressional representatives and Senators to support the bi-partisan recommendation for a funding increase for the National Family Caregiver Support Program. If you're unsure who they are or how to reach them, you can find that information at http://www.house.gov/ or http://www.senate.gov/

    Long-term Care and Retirement Security Act of 2004 (S.1335)
    Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) first introduced this bill in 2000 to the 106th Congress and re-introduced it to the 107th, and 108th sessions of Congress as well. It would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a deduction for qualified long-term care insurance premiums, use of such insurance under cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements, and a credit for individuals with long-term care needs. Senator Grassley's press office says that he is "fine tuning it" for possible re-introduction in the 109th Congress.

  • Contact Senator Grassley: http://grassley.senate.gov/
  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov

    Life Span Respite Care Act of 2003 (S.538)
    Introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) with 13 co-sponsors, including Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Passed the Senate in the 108th Congress, but the House did not act. Defines Lifespan respite programs are defined in the bill as coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services. The bill would authorize funds for development of lifespan respite programs at state and local levels, based on best practices; evaluation of such programs; planned or emergency respite care services; and worker, volunteer, and family training programs. Senator Clinton's press office says she is planning to re-introduce this bill for consideration by the 109th Congress.

  • Contact Senator Clinton: http://clinton.senate.gov/
  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov

    Family and Medical Leave Act
    The FMLA gives workers the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for an ill family member or to recuperate from serious illness. President Bill Clinton signed the Act into law in February 1993. In the 10 years since the FMLA took effect, more than 35 million workers have been able to take time off to recover from their own serious illnesses or care for loved ones—without risking their jobs.

  • Get answers to your questions about the FMLA from the U.S. Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/fmla/faq.asp

    Bills not mentioned in the broadcast program but of interest to family caregivers:

    Money Follows the Person Act of 2005 (S.528)
    This bill, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa in March 2005, would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide grants to States to conduct demonstration projects that are designed to enable Medicaid-eligible individuals to receive support for appropriate and necessary long-term services.
    Latest Major Action: Referred to Senate Committee on Finance.

  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
  • Contact Senator Harkin: http://harkin.senate.gov/

    Family Caregiver Security Act of 2005 (H.R.175)
    Introduced in January 2005 by Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald of California, this bill would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the use of qualified family caregivers in the provision of home health aide services under the Medicare Program.
    Latest Major Action: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Chairman.

  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
  • Contact Congresswoman Millender-McDonald: http://www.house.gov/millender-mcdonald

    Family and Medical Leave Protection Act of 2005 (H.R.279)
    Introduced by Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald in January, this bill would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to include nurse practitioners and domestic partners within the scope of coverage of the Act and to extend the period of family or medical leave for spouses employed by the same employer.
    Latest Major Action: Referred to House subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

  • Search for the full text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov
  • Contact Congresswoman Millender-McDonald: http://www.house.gov/millender-mcdonald/

    The 2005 White House Conference on Aging
    The historic meeting, scheduled for December 11-14th in Washington, D.C., hosts 1200 delegates who will vote on resolutions and develop implementation strategies to be presented to the President and Congress to help guide national aging policies for the next decade and beyond. The 2005 WHCoA is the fifth in American history, and the first of the 21st century.

    "The recommendations from the 2005 White House Conference on Aging will help our nation meet the needs and expectations of older Americans in the future, especially for the first wave of 78 million baby boomers who will begin to turn 60 in 2006. We are talking about no less than a cultural change in perceptions on aging. We are talking about moving from awareness to action." Josefina G. Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Administration on Aging

    The 2005 WHCoA Policy Committee is considering these issues:

    Planning Along the Lifespan: Public and private financing of services and benefits for current and future older Americans; increased personal savings and investments for retirement; continuing caregiving responsibilities, and long term care insurance (e.g. tax incentives)

    Workplace of the Future: Flexible work arrangements; Re-employment; and Maximum use of technology.

    Community: Housing; transportation; access to supportive services; livable communities health and long term living; health promotion and disease prevention; transition from a disease care system to a health care system; management of chronic disease; use of Technology in healthcare delivery and access; nutrition needs and education; home care and institutional care.

    Social Engagement: Community service and volunteerism; leisure activities; lifelong learning.

    Marketplace: Responses to consumer needs and demands: development of consumer products, supplies and services.

    Policy Committee meetings are open to the public and are announced through the Federal Register. To find out more about this historic event, and how you can participate, visit the WHCoA website at:http://www.whcoa.gov/

    Editor's Note: All information on legislative status was compiled in May 2005. Please check with a bill’s sponsor for current status, or search thomas.loc.gov for the latest major action on that bill.

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