The President’s recently proposed FY07 budget contains spending cuts to many social service and health care programs that assist older adults and their caregivers, including $36 billion in cuts to the Medicare program over the next five years.
Cuts in nursing home and home health care provider reimbursements total $5 billion and $3.5 billion respectively. Medicaid spending would be reduced by about $5 billion over five years. The House and Senate will consider the proposed budget in their FY07 appropriations deliberations.
The Senate Subcommittee on Retirement, Security, and Aging recently held a hearing regarding the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Testimony covered support for family caregivers; delivery of home and community-based services; strengthening the aging network; nutrition and meal delivery; and civic engagement. Audio and video coverage of the hearing, as well as testimony from the 13 witnesses, is available online at http://help.senate.gov/Hearings/2006_02_14_b/2006_02_14_b.html.
In February, the Idaho Legislature introduced a bill (S.1390) to establish a Medicaid benefit for family caregivers of persons who do not currently meet the criteria for nursing facility levels of care but who show evidence of physical or mental health or emotional problems from the strain of caregiving. The bill also requires use of an established scale to assess the well-being of caregivers and to determine caregivers’ eligibility for respite benefits.
The Hawaii Senate and House have introduced several bills to provide additional support to family caregivers. S.B. 2440 would appropriate $4 million for caregiver training and $1,000 annual grants to family caregivers. Two companion bills (S.B. 2001 and H.B. 2107) would create a program to offer annual grants to help support family caregivers.
The Arizona Legislature introduced a bill (H.B. 2318) to modify tax laws for family caregivers, among other individuals. One proposed change is to allow an exemption of $10,000 for an individual living with and caring for a parent age 65 or older who requires assistance with activities of daily living.
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