©2005 Family Caregiver Alliance
In preparation for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), a-once-in-a-decade event taking place in December, a mini-conference on the “Future of Caregiving” was convened last June. The purpose of the mini-conference was to provide a forum to discuss the implications of the increasing numbers of family caregivers and to develop a set of policy recommendations for presentation to the WHCoA Policy Committee. To view the issues discussed at the forum and the recommendations developed by the participants, visit: http://www.whcoa.gov/about/policy/meetings/mini-conferences.asp.
In other news, the Senate Appropriations Committee completed its work on the 2006 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending bill, which includes funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA). If approved, the bill would give the Administration on Aging $1.392 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2006, which is slightly more than the agency received for FY 2005. The largest increase in the Senate committee budget is for the National Family Caregiver Support Program which would receive an increase of $5 million for a total of $161 million. For further information, visit: http://appropriations.senate.gov/hearmarkups/07-14-05PRLaborHFull.htm.
Several key pieces of legislation that would provide support for family caregivers have recently been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2005 (S. 1283) was introduced in June in the U.S. Senate and in July in the House and would provide coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite services for family caregivers of children and adults with special needs. Specifically, funds would allow for the development of respite programs throughout the lifespan at state and local levels; the evaluation of such programs; planned or emergency respite services; training and recruitment of respite workers and volunteers; and caregiver training about respite services. The Act would also establish a National Resource Center on Lifespan Respite Care.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act of 2005 (H.R. 3192) would provide up to 12 weeks of wages to workers who take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The new benefit allows time off for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a sick relative or because the employee has a serious medical condition. Workers would receive their benefit through a new Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund financed through a .4% payroll contribution from employers. This benefit would cost the average employer about $11 per worker per month. In return, an employee would be able to receive up to 55% of their weekly salary for up to 12 weeks.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Improving Long-Term Care Services Act (S. 1602), a proposal that would expand access to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS). The bill includes provisions for a $3,000 caregiver tax credit, expansion of long-term care insurance partnerships, and a study to remove barriers to integrated acute and long-term care services for those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
For more information on bills and resolutions, visit the U.S. Congress legislative search engine at http://thomas.loc.gov.
©2005 Family Caregiver Alliance
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