October in Washington usually brings Congressional action on the 13 appropriations bills that fund government agencies and programs. Because of the elections and ongoing negotiations, Congress recessed in early October without enacting all the bills, and will return November 16, 2004 (post-election) for what is known is a “lame-duck” session. At that time the Labor/HHS/Education and other spending measures will be debated and passed.
At the current time, House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) have recommended $157 million for Fiscal Year 2005 (which began October 1, 2004). This is an increase of $4.3 million over Fiscal Year 2004.
This session of Congress has also seen the introduction of a range of bills which address family caregiver issues.
The Comprehensive Long-Term Care Support Act of 2004 (H.R. 5110) is the latest in a series of “omnibus” bills to include major family caregiving components. The legislation would double the funding for the NFCSP (to $250 million), provide for a $3,000 caregiver tax credit, and allow the deduction of the cost of long-term care insurance premiums.
The Long-Term Care Support and Incentive Act of 2004 (H.R. 4432), also introduced recently, includes a $4,000 caregiver tax credit. Despite bipartisan efforts on a range of caregiver initiatives (tax credits, funding increases, etc.), major action has not been taken.
In other federal news, the White House conference on Aging is slated for October 24 – 26, 2005. The conference will address a range of long-term care issues, including federal efforts to support family and informal caregivers.
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