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Senator Santorum Introduces Legislation to Encourage Caregiving and Planning for Long-Term Care: the Aging with Respect and Dignity Act

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Location: Washington, DC


Senator Santorum Introduces Legislation to Encourage Caregiving and Planning for Long-Term Care: the Aging with Respect and Dignity Act

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today introduced the Aging with Respect and Dignity Act. If passed by Congress, this legislation would assist caregivers who are providing for their loved-ones, and encourage planning so that more Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to receive the best possible care in the setting of their choice.

The Aging with Respect and Dignity Act would:

· Expand current rules to permit employers to offer long-term care insurance to employees using pre-tax dollars.

· Enhance flexible-spending account rules to allow accounts to be used for long-term care services for family members. For example, a caregiver could use the account to pay for home health and respite care for a loved-one.

· Create long-term care accounts that individuals can use to set aside tax-preferred money over time to use for long-term care services for themselves and/or a family member. One of the many benefits of these accounts is that they would provide an option for many Americans who are unable to obtain long-term care insurance due to an illness or disability (such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, or HIV) allowing these individuals to plan and save for long-term care needs for themselves and family members. For example, working parents would be able to plan and save for long-term care needs for a disabled child.

· Increase long-term care planning options by creating life care annuities -- combining features of annuities with long-term care insurance, making the products more affordable than if each were purchased separately, and significantly increasing the number of individuals that could be covered.

"Most Americans are not planning for, and are not prepared for, the financial impact of long-term care for themselves and their loved-ones. Individuals in need of long-term care - seniors and those with illness and disabilities - should have the opportunity to age with respect and dignity - receiving services of their choice, in the setting of their choice," said Senator Santorum. "If more middle-class Americans plan and save for their long-term care needs, an added benefit will be that the significant financial pressures will be lessened on safety-net programs such as Medicaid - helping us preserve and strengthen these programs for those in need."

Senator Santorum has traveled throughout the Commonwealth listening to the concerns and suggestions of his fellow Pennsylvanians as he worked to develop long-term care legislation. In November 2005, Senator Santorum hosted a town hall meeting in Philadelphia with Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The Senate Finance Committee has significant jurisdiction over legislation and oversight related to long-term care.

"I appreciate Senator Santorum's work to improve long-term care options for Pennsylvanians," said Senator Grassley. "As Americans live longer, healthier lives, they need more long-term care options than ever before. They should be able to stay at home for as long as possible or have access to a good skilled nursing facility if they need one. Federal policy can help to make quality long-term care more affordable and more accessible. Senator Santorum's commitment to this cause is important for the well-being of our aging population."

"I am glad that I had the opportunity to discuss long-term care with my fellow Pennsylvanians - this legislation was developed based on what I heard across the Commonwealth," said Senator Santorum. "I've heard from sons and daughters who are trying to find the best care for their aging parents. I've heard from those in the long-term care industry who expressed a need for raised standards. I've also heard from countless Pennsylvanians who need more options in planning for their long-term care needs. I am proud to author the Aging with Respect and Dignity Act - which I believe will help solve these problems."

Also today, as part of Senator Santorum's overall long-term care agenda, he introduced the Medicare Home Health Telehealth Act of 2006. This bill would enable Medicare home health beneficiaries in rural and non-rural areas to leverage current and future technology.

Pennsylvania has one of the largest senior populations in the nation, and the number of Pennsylvanians age 85 and older is projected to increase by thirty-eight percent between 2000 and 2015. Long-term care can range from basic help with chores and activities in the home, assistance with activities of daily living in an assisted living facility, or highly skilled care in a nursing facility.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1673&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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