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Advocates To Push for Caregiver Tax Credit in 2017

AARP Arizona will be pushing for several new bills to help family caregivers in 2017. (Renown Rehab)
AARP Arizona will be pushing for several new bills to help family caregivers in 2017. (Renown Rehab)
January 5, 2017

PHOENIX -- The new legislative session will begin on Monday, and advocates for people age 50 and older are laying out their priorities for 2017 - and they include a tax credit for caregivers.

One in eight Arizonans - about 804,000 people - spends at least one hour per week helping an elderly friend or relative get by. Stephen Jennings, associate state director at AARP Arizona, said he supports a tax credit for those who are doing so much.

"Your typical caregiver spends around $6,000 of their own money taking care of the loved one over the year,” Jennings said. “And we'd like to see the Legislature pass a $500-a-year tax credit for people taking care of others."

AARP Arizona is also working to encourage hospitals to give caregivers more training before a patient is released, in order to bring down the rate of readmission.

Jennings said he would also like to see more support for respite programs that give caregivers a break by paying for a substitute caregiver for a few hours every once in awhile, so they don't burn out. He said that caregivers who feel refreshed can continue in that role - often for many years - and that's good for everyone.

"It can save the taxpayer money because then, families are enabled to take care of their loved ones for a longer time and keep them out of expensive, tax-supported nursing homes,” Jennings said.

Last year, the Legislature approved some one-time funding for a caregiver respite program and to hire more staff to investigate elder abuse. AARP Arizona is hoping those funds will be made permanent.

They are also pushing for a new rule to stop "surprise" medical bills, by requiring hospitals to tell patients ahead of time they are going to be treated by someone who does not take their insurance.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ