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Advocates To Push for Caregiver Tax Credit in 2017


Thursday, 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.

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