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The Republican & Democratic Perspectives on Long-Term Care

Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:19 PM

With less than one month away from the 2016 general election, NAHC decided to highlight some key points on long-term care of the two major candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The most recent estimates show about 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided approximately 37 billion hours of care to adults in 2013, according to a report released by the AARP’s Public Policy Institute. In 2013, about $470 billion was unpaid contributions to the family caregivers.

In 2010, there were seven potential caregivers available for each person 80 or older and this will only continue to increase as the years go on.

About eight million people received long-term care services in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but that number will only increase in the coming years, as millions of baby boomers enter their golden years.

When the subject for cost of long-term care was brought up, both candidates provided little detail, which is common during election races. The Republican platform mentions long-term care: “As the dominant force in the health market with regard to long-term care, births, and persons with mental illness, (Medicaid) is the next frontier of welfare reform. It is simply too big and too flawed to be administered from Washington.”

The Democratic platform addresses the issue in a section entitled “Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services and Supports.” “Democrats will take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services and supports, and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community.”

The Republican platform also mentions homecare. It reads: “Our aging population must have access to safe and affordable care. Because most seniors desire to age at home, we will make homecare a priority in public policy and implement programs to protect against elder abuse.” No mention is made of lost wages or Social Security benefits, though that portion of the platform does include language against taxes.

According to Clinton, “Americans should receive credit toward their Social Security benefits when they are out of the paid workforce because they are acting as caregivers.”

Trump promises that people will be allowed to open dependent care savings accounts (DCSA), which will give people the option to plan for future expenses relating to child and elder care. Additionally, the Trump plan wants to provide an above-the-line deduction for elder care costs that allows a family member to work outside the home.

A topic of substantial concern to many caregivers is paid family leave. According to Trump, “I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it, but certainly there are a lot of people discussing it.”

The Democratic party platform favors “passing a family and medical leave act that would provide all workers with at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or address a personal or family member’s serious health issue.” The Democrats promise to “ensure that family caregivers have the support, respite care, and training they need to support their loved ones. We will create a strong, stable, paid caregiving workforce to help meet families’ needs, by raising wages, improving access to training…”

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