Hillary Clinton

On the heels of the release of a new study about the financing of long-term services and supports in the United States, two organizations representing senior living providers are expressing approval for one presidential candidate’s idea to help shift some expenses away from family caregivers.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is proposing a 20% tax credit to help family members offset up to $6,000 in caregiving costs for their elderly family members. The credit idea, unveiled Nov. 22, would allow caregivers to claim up to $1,200 in tax relief each year.

“As I understand the proposal, we are open to initiatives such as the one presented,” Clifton J. Porter II, senior vice president of government relations for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “More than ever, we need to ease the burden of those who care for a loved one. It’s a timely solution for helping to address the eldercare issues of an aging population. It should help to improve the quality of life for the elderly family member as well as the caregiver.”

LeadingAge also said it welcomes the high-profile attention to the issue.

“This is a critical issue that isn’t going away: the rising costs of care for an aging population that is living longer and that wants to stay in their own homes,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix. “In fact, this is an issue that all presidential candidates should be talking about, because we now know that there are real solutions for changing the way we finance long-term care.”

Families are spending more than $100 billion annually, directly paying for about half of paid care provided in the United States, according to figures presented Nov. 17 at a press conference during which new research, written by Urban Institute authors and published in Health Affairs, was discussed. In the research, an outgrowth of LeadingAge’s Pathways report, authors Melissa M. Favreault, Howard Gleckman and Richard W. Johnson modeled three options for LTSS insurance with the hopes that policymakers and others will use the information to help address issues related to LTSS financing.

A tax credit like the one proposed by Clinton could help family caregivers pay for LTSS, save more funds for their own future needs and protect their ability to remain in the workforce, which can be jeopardized by caregiving responsibilities, according to LeadingAge. A report released in October by insurance holding company Genworth Financial detailed several negative job-related consequences faced by some family caregivers.

Clinton’s proposal also would create an initiative to address professional caregiver challenges, expand Social Security by counting family caregiving toward eligibility and benefits, and build on a program that authorizes grants to improve respite care access for family caregivers. Clinton vows that her Caregiver Respite budget request would total $100 million over 10 years.