Tester introduces caregivers act

Great Falls Tribune

by Tibune Staff

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., recently said he has introduced legislation that will give financial aid to families providing long-term care for loved ones.

The Credit for Caring Act will create a nonrefundable tax credit worth up to $3,000 per year for people who spend more than $2,000 on caregiving expenses. Tester’s bill will help families pay for home modifications and medical supplies — as well as help reimburse family caregivers for lost wages and unpaid time-off due to providing care.

“This bill provides family caregivers with more financial certainty, which will increase the quality of care they can provide, and allow seniors to remain in their own homes,” Tester said via email. ”Establishing this tax credit is good for families, good for seniors, and good for our economy.”

Tester was joined Wednesday in Billings by Al Ward, state president of the American Association of Retired Persons and Kathleen Burke, a Billings native who was a caregiver for her parents and grandparents while they were living with Alzheimer’s. AARP has endorsed the bill.

“By supporting family caregivers with a tax credit, we can help people stay at home, which is where they want to be. This bill helps to delay more costly nursing home care, prevent unnecessary hospitalization, and saves taxpayers dollars,” Ward said.

To be eligible, caregivers must incur expenses for providing care to a spouse or other family member, and the person they’re caring for must be certified by a health care practitioner as needing long-term care.

According to the AARP, 118,000 Montanans serve as family caregivers and provide $1.4 billion in uncompensated care each year.

Nationwide, there are nearly 12 million people in need of long-term care, and family caregivers spend an estimated 30 billion hours caring for older family and friends each year without receiving any compensation, Tester said.