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Minnesota Lawmaker Promotes "Senior Care" Legislation

August 8, 2007

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she plans to introduce legislation to help families caring for aging relatives. It would set up a 'clearinghouse of information' to help seniors stay independent and in their homes as long as possible.

"That means, making information available on where you can get groceries delivered, where you can get someone to get your pharmaceuticals. Things like that. And, that's not very clear all over the country, but especially in rural areas."

She adds that the plan also has a tax credit of up to $1,200 a year for caregivers, who often are the children of seniors, and are raising their own children.

Klobuchar feels that the plan also addresses a problem with some long-term care insurance providers who refuse to pay, or delay paying, legitimate claims.

"Members of Congress actually are able to appeal decisions that are made by insurance companies to a board, instead of having to file a lawsuit and go to court. And so, we want to make that same option available to regular people, and not just members of Congress."

Klobuchar notes that Minnesota's "over 65" population is expected to double over the next two decades, and we've got to get ready for the consequences.

The proposal has the support of AARP Minnesota. Spokeswoman Amy McDonough believes we've got to take care of those who are taking care of our elderly population.

"We know that family caregivers, and those are folks who informally work with their family members in the home to provide eldercare, they are truly the backbone of our long-term care system. We estimate that 80 to 90 percent of the long-term care is actually provided by family members. So, without them, the system would be overburdened, and wouldn't be able to care for people."

She explains that the goal is to make sure everyone spends their later years in comfort and with dignity.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN