Spring and summer are marked by the annual appropriations process, with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives holding hearings and debating legislation to fund federal agencies and programs. In March 2004, Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell testified before a House panel in support of funding levels proposed by the President for the Older Americans Act programs.
U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Kit Bond (R-MO) haveintroduced the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2004 (S.2533). The legislation would double funding for Alzheimer's research; launch a public education campaign on the latest advances in research and prevention; increase funds for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Alzheimer's Demonstration Grant Program; implement a caregiver tax credit; and enhance respite care options throughout the country.
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has introduced the Healthy Families Act (S.2520), which would guarantee workers seven paid days of sick leave a year to care for their own medical needs and those of their family members.
In other news, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald (D-CA) recently introduced legislation (H.R. 4095) which would allow family caregivers to be paid providers of personal care for their loved ones under the Medicare program. The bill would also expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover domestic partners and to extend the leave period from 12 weeks to 24 weeks. It is not expected that the U.S. House will take action on the measure in the near future.
At the state level, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey has signed an Executive Order to expand caregiver support services in the state. The Executive Order creates the New Jersey Caring for Caregivers Initiative which provides 14 county Offices on Aging with funds to offer a variety of services in the home of the caregiver. It would also fund seven county Statewide Respite Care Programs to help family caregivers.
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