Don’t you wish you could make your voice as a Family Caregiver heard in the halls of Congress? You can. The American Association of Family Caregivers is actively fighting for the rights of the millions of Family Caregivers who spend their time, money and love caring for family members.
We are tracking a number of bills before Congress that would directly affect your lives. These bills include spending and appropriations bills as well as healthcare legislation. We lobby the appropriate members of congress and let them know what issues are important to us and tell them how we feel about them.
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Following is an update on our lobbying activities for February 2018
Dear Members of The American Association of Family Caregivers
AAFCG is taking definitive steps to stand up for the rights of Family Caregivers. As we get more information. We are taking initiatives directly to Capitol Hill based on the response we receive from you, our members. We will be updating this part of the website regularly.
According to AARP research, 40 million Americans care for adult loved ones and the unpaid care these family caregivers provide is valued at about $470 billion a year. In addition to those individuals supporting their parents and spouses, about 3.7 million family caregivers provide care to a child younger than 18, and 6.5 million family caregivers assist both adults and children. Additionally, AARP found that 78% of family caregivers use their own money to care for loved ones, and on average those individuals spend nearly 20% of their annual income on caregiving-related expenses.
Unfortunately, the meritorious legislation was not included in the tax reform bill that became law in December. Supporters of the Credit for Caring Act, including AAFCG, will continue to push Congress to consider this bill during the months ahead.
However, there are some good things to report which we summarize below:
On December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law tax cuts and reforms for individuals and families that will mostly take effect during the 2018 tax year. Tax Reform Includes Beneficial Change to Medical Expense Deduction. However, AAFCG is proud to inform its members that a beneficial change was made to the medical expense deduction for tax years 2017-2019.
For tax years 2017-2019, individuals and families may now claim an itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses if those expenses exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. For these tax years, this new threshold applies for purposes of the Alternative Minimum Tax in addition to the regular tax.
Congress Passes, President Trump Signs RAISE Act
For seemingly generations, the federal government has struggled to fully recognize the benefit to the country provided by family caregivers. AAFCG believes that is about to change. On January 22, 2018, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill from Congress that will force the federal government to take a much closer look at assisting family caregivers. The law, known as the “RAISE Family Caregivers Act” and authored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS-3), directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and make publicly available a National Family Caregiving Strategy that identifies recommended actions for recognizing and supporting family caregivers in a manner that reflects their diverse needs.
We are watching that carefully, identifying key congressmen and will be back shortly with more information soon.
Family Caregiving Advisory Council
HHS is also directed to convene a Family Caregiving Advisory Council to advise the department on recognizing and supporting family caregivers. Among the groups of people whom HHS must include on the advisory council are family caregivers, older adults with long-term services and supports needs,
individuals with disabilities, and health care and social service providers. The National Family Caregiving Strategy and the Family Caregiving Advisory Council have not been formalized yet. AAFCG aims to participate in the creation of both of those vital federal resources.
Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Seek to Provide Tax Credit to Family Caregivers
In addition to the tax reform effort of 2017 that resulted in landmark law, a group of bipartisan lawmakers are banding together to advance legislation that would provide a $3000 nonrefundable tax credit to family caregivers who work while also financially supporting their parents, spouses, children, and/or other loved ones. The bill, titled the Credit for Caring Act, was introduced by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA).
That’s your update for now; we continue to stay focused on getting more benefits and attention from our Congress to help you care for your family members and yourself. Please remember, we want to hear from you about what is important to you.
Thank You for All that You do!