This week, volunteers and staff from Kentucky headed to Washington to advocate on behalf of AARP members and all older Americans on the crucial issues of Family Caregiving and Social Security. While meeting with members of Congress, these volunteers and staff are carried out crucial asks:
- AARP Kentucky advocates have asked members of Congress to support two pieces of bipartisan legislation to help family caregivers, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, and the Credit for Caring Act and have also enlisted members of the House and Senate to join the bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus.
- On the important issue of Social Security AARP have continued to promote a dialogue about what we can do together to bring about legislative action keep it strong for future generations.
“Most of us have been or will be a family caregiver, or will need help to live independently. And, since family caregivers make up the backbone of services for most people, we need more private and public sector solutions that help support those who give care and the people they care for” said AARP Kentucky State President, Jim Kimbrough “We expect this ageless, nonpartisan issue to continue to grow in importance”.
In Kentucky, nearly 650,000 family caregivers (use number from PPI’s Valuing the Invaluable 2015) provide unpaid care valued at $6.9 billion annually (use number from PPI’s Valuing the Invaluable 2015 – page 19: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/valuing-the-invaluable-2015-update-new.pdf ). In recent years, about 40 million family caregivers in the nation have provided unpaid care valued at $470 billion annually, more than total Medicaid spending. Family caregivers also help delay or prevent more costly institutional care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars. They help with daily activities including bathing, dressing, meal preparation, managing medications, and transportation.
There are several efforts on Capitol Hill to help give family caregivers the support they need.
The bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act would require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. The bill, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), has already passed in the Senate. The House bill, introduced by Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), has over 60 cosponsors. AARP is urging the House to pass the legislation.
The bipartisan Credit for Caring Act would provide a federal tax credit for eligible working family caregivers caring for loved ones of all ages. The legislation was introduced by US Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Senate and Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) in the House.
Additionally, the congressional ACT Caucus serves as a forum to engage members of the House and Senate on family caregiving and living independently, exchange ideas, and build bipartisan relationships that can lead to solutions. Co-chaired by US Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), it has over 40 bipartisan members in the House and Senate, Representative Andy Barr from Kentucky. AARP staff and volunteers have sought to expand this important group.
In Kentucky AARP has been a long-time champion of Social Security. We have always stood for Social Security because it is so important to our members, older Americans, their families and future generations. Our proactive work to ensure Social Security’s Trust Fund solvency and adequate benefits continues on this day of issue advocacy.
We want to promote a dialogue about what we can do together to bring about legislative action in the near future to ensure Social Security if financially sound and provides adequate benefits for future generations. To help spur that dialogue going forward, we have shared our principles for Social Security adequacy and solvency with members of Congress.
And, separate from advocating in Congress, as the election unfolds AARP Kentucky volunteers will seek to engage all candidates running for federal office, including those running for President and Congress on the issue of ensuring Social Security solvency and adequacy for current and future generations.
“Social Security remains a key issue for AARP members and older Americans,” continued Kimbrough. “Anyone running for office this year owes it to voters to tell them if they plan to work toward solving the issues that impact Social Security’s future.”