Departing from the tradition of enacting spending bills before the end of the federal fiscal year (September 30), or before adjourning for the end of the year, Congress did not pass all 13 spending bills until February 20, 2003. Now that the bills have been signed into law, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) will see an increase of almost $14 million, for a total of $155 million in fiscal year 2003. In contrast, President Bush has proposed $142 million in funding for the NFCSP in fiscal year 2004. Final funding for this fiscal year will be determined through the Congressional process throughout the summer and fall.
Several members of Congress have reintroduced legislation, or sponsored new proposals, that would provide support for or assistance to family and informal caregivers. This includes the Lifespan Respite Bill (S. 538) introduced by Senator Clinton (D-NY), which passed the Senate on April 10, 2003. The legislation is now pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Other measures include the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2003 (H.R. 473) which would allow family caregivers who provide unpaid care to qualify for credits in the Social Security system for the time that they provided care; the Geriatric Care Act of 2003 (H.R. 102) which would provide Medicare coverage for family education and counseling services; the American Health Security Act (H.R. 1200) which includes among its many provisions a respite care and caregiver training component; the Access to Affordable Health Care Act (S. 100), an omnibus health bill that includes a $3,000 caregiver tax credit; and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Prevention and Care Act (S. 566) which would reauthorize the Alzheimer’s Disease Demonstration Grants to States program. In addition, S. 566 would increase funding for Alzheimer’s research from $500 million to $1.5 billion.
Finally, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) plans to introduce legislation to provide a $5,000 tax credit for caregivers. Similar measures were offered as amendments to budget and tax legislation. These bills await further action by the Congress in order to take effect.
For information visit our section on Bills to Watch.
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