January marked the beginning of the Congressional calendar and since each Congressional cycle is two years long, 2005 kicks off the 109th Congress. All the legislation from the 108th Congress must be re-introduced to be considered by either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.
Changes in this Congress include a newly elected Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and new chairs of several committees and subcommittees that oversee aging, health and caregiving issues. The Special Committee on Aging (http://aging.senate.gov/public/) will now be headed by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), the ranking Democrat is Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI).
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (http://help.senate.gov) the committee with jurisdiction over the National Family Caregiver Support Program and other aging programs–will be chaired by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY); Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) will continue to serve as the ranking Democrat.
Two pieces of legislation related to caregiving have been introduced so far this year. Congresswoman Millender-McDonald (D-CA) has sponsored the Family Caregiver Security Act of 2005 (H.R. 175). The bill would allow family caregivers to be paid providers of home health or personal care assistant services under the Medicare program. Congresswoman Millender-McDonald also introduced House Concurrent Resolution 8 which expresses support for ensuring that the National Family Caregiver Support Program is fully funded.
Senator Craig (R-ID) has also announced his intention to reintroduce the Senior Eldercare Relief and Empowerment Act (SECURE Act). The bill would provide a 50 percent tax credit to families who care for an older adult with long-term care needs. For more information on bills and resolutions visit the U.S. Congress legislative search engine: http://thomas.loc.gov.
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