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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Plan to Help Families Balance their Responsibilities to Parents and Children

Today, Hillary Clinton outlined her agenda to ease the burden on families that are struggling to balance caring for elderly parents, spouses and children, while meeting their job obligations. With a growing elderly population, many working parents are finding themselves in the "sandwich generation," facing big challenges to provide care not only as "working parents" but as "working children" for their own parents as well. In Iowa, over 15 percent of the population is 65 or older, and the state ranks second among the states for population above 85. Out-of-pocket costs for families with long-term caregiving responsibilities have skyrocketed to $5,531 per year - more than what most of these families spend on their own health care. Burdened with both long-term care and child care costs, many caregivers are dipping into their retirement savings or forgoing health care coverage for themselves. Hillary Clinton's comprehensive agenda to help these overburdened caregivers balance their responsibilities includes:

Improving Nursing Home Quality: Hillary has been working tirelessly to ensure that our seniors receive the quality care they deserve in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Yesterday, she wrote Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding an investigation into why the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its "special focus facility" list of 128 sub-standard nursing homes to industry lobbyists but not to the public. Hillary has also introduced legislation with her colleague Senator Tom Harkin to require CMS to publicly release this entire list. She believes that seniors and their families deserve full, accurate information on nursing home performance in order to make critical life decisions about long-term care. She will continue fighting until they have the information they need.

In addition, Hillary has proposed a comprehensive solution to the growing challenge of nursing home quality. From 2000 to 2006, we have seen a 22 percent increase in nursing homes citations for serious quality deficiencies - those that put residents in ‘immediate jeopardy.' As President, Hillary will:

Triple federal support for nursing home ombudsmen programs to $50 million, to directly improve the accountability and oversight over long-term care facilities. The increased resources will help the ombudsmen in Iowa and across the country to vigorously investigate complaints and tackle new, complex issues in the long term care industry.

Direct the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to assist state consumer advocates and prosecutors to tackle persistent abuses and new challenges in the long-term care industry.

Strengthen our nursing and direct care workforce with a national system of background checks for long-term care workers and $125 million investment in Workforce Improvement Programs
Require CMS to provide clear, comprehensive data on the Nursing Home Compare website on 1) up-to-date and accurate nursing home staffing levels; 2) the full-not just abridged-reports from inspections and complaint investigations; 3) any and all information about repeat offenses that CMS compiles; and 4) clear information about the ownership structures of long-term care facilities-so seniors can know who is in charge of the facilities they live in.

Helping Families Balance Their Responsibilities to Parents and Children

Offering A New $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit: Hillary will offer a new $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit to any person with substantial long-term care needs or to their caregivers. The credit will not require a complex accounting of out-of-pocket costs, but instead will be available directly to any individuals with substantial long-term care needs or their caregivers.

Hillary's new $3,000 Caregivers Tax Credit will benefit at least 50,000 Iowa seniors, people with disabilities and their families. [CRS, 2007; Census 2007]

Providing A New Long-Term Care Insurance Tax Credit: Hillary will offer a new tax credit to help those planning for their long-term care needs afford high-quality insurance policies that are right for them. This new tax credit will cover 75 percent of long-term care insurance premiums up to $1,500 per year for qualified long-term care insurance policies that meet strong new consumer protection requirements.

Hillary's new Long Term Care Insurance Tax Credit will benefit at least 125,000 Iowan seniors and near-retirees.

Increasing Support for Unpaid Family Caregivers: Hillary understands that the heroic work of caregiving can take its toll. By providing temporary relief and counseling for caregivers, we will improve the quality of life of those they care for. As President, Hillary will invest an additional $300 million per year in the Lifespan Respite Caregiver Act and the National Family Caregiver Support Program.

Ensuring Paid Family Leave by 2016: Hillary will set a bold goal of having paid leave for all American workers by 2016. First, she will expand the Family Medical Leave Act to cover employers with 25 or more workers, a change that will provide legal protection for unpaid leave to 13 million additional workers. Second, Hillary will commit $1 billion per year for a Family Leave Innovation Fund to support the establishment and expansion of state-level leave programs for new parents and those caring for their aging parents.

Hillary's Paid Leave Initiative could impact approximately 1.1 million workers in Iowa (94 percent of all private-sector workers) who do not have paid family leave. [National Partnership for Women & Families]

Guaranteeing Access to Sick Days for All Americans: Hillary is proposing to make seven sick days a year - to care for yourself, your spouse or your children - standard. When people go to work ill or worry about their sick child or parent, they make other people sick and they undermine the productivity of their workplaces.

Hillary's sick leave expansion could impact approximately 600,000 Iowa workers who currently do not have sick days. [National Partnership for Women & Families]

Stepping Up Support for Child Care: Hillary has worked to expand access and improve quality of child care in our country for decades. The Bush Administration has essentially frozen child care funding, significantly eroding the real purchasing power of child care subsidies. 150,000 have already lost child care assistance since 2000, and 300,000 children will lose child care assistance by 2010. Hillary will increase child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and return the program to it's original intent: to serve working families.

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