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“And Thou Shalt Honor National Caregiving Town Hall Meeting”

This one-hour PBS special is uniquely edited to highlight the real questions raised by participants in a series of nine local and regional Caregiving Town Hall Meetings produced by Wiland-Bell Productions and broadcast on PBS through 14 states over the past two years. Participants at these town hall meetings want to know what federal lawmakers can do to improve supports for family caregivers, and provide relief to the “Sandwich Generation” so they don’t have to choose between caring for aging parents and supporting their own children’s education. They want to know if their elected representatives will muster enough bipartisan political will in the current 109th Congress to pass caregiver-friendly legislation that has languished in committee for three years. They are asking what it will take to get Congress to reauthorize the National Family Caregivers Support Program, reform the healthcare system, and make “spending down” into poverty to qualify for government aid a relic of the past? With the aging of America on the horizon, how will the federal government prepare the nation for healthy longevity?

To get answers to these and other family caregiver issues, Dale Bell, executive producer with Harry Wiland, of the 2002 And Thou Shalt Honor PBS caregiving outreach project, brought his cameras into the Capitol Hill offices of six senators, three members of the House of Representatives, one governor, the Administration’s Medicare and Medicaid Director, and key caregiving and aging experts.

Responding on the record to these citizen concerns are Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), House Members Pete Stark (D-CA), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), Dr. Mark McClellan (Administrator,CMS), Gail Gibson Hunt (President of the National Alliance for Caregiving), Suzanne Mintz (President, National Family Caregivers Association), and Robert Blancato (President, Matz, Blancato & Associates). Dr. Bill Thomas (Founder, the Eden Alternative and the GreenHouse Project) is also featured in the program. The roots of the current dilemma in caregiving and healthcare are examined through a historical lens with archival footage of Presidents Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, and Truman.

Major underwriter for the ATSH National Caregiving Town Hall Meeting is PacifiCare. Additional underwriters are the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation of Cleveland and the FJC, a donor advised fund, of New York City.

Executive Producers/Directors: Dale Bell and Harry Wiland. Writers: Dale Bell and Rachel Ross. Associate Producers: Vicki Mills for Production, Rachel Ross for Research. Editor: Kirk Kirkland. Assistant Editor: Maria Theresianne Avedillo. Directors of Photography: Norris Brock and Jonathan Bell. Audio: Michael Roche. Additional editing: Beverly Baroff. Music: David Loeb and Gary Griffith. Additional music: Diane Kirkland. Technical Advisor: Gail Gibson Hunt, President, National Alliance for Caregiving. Production Assistant: Mark Beattie.