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WI Bills Target Care for Family Caregivers

As Wisconsin's population ages, a task force and several pieces of legislation have been filed to help caregivers. (Pixabay)
As Wisconsin's population ages, a task force and several pieces of legislation have been filed to help caregivers. (Pixabay)
October 8, 2019

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers's Caregiver task force explores ways to provide better wages and benefits to the state's caregivers. And two bills also would help caregivers get updated medical information about the people they care for as well as tax credits.

Republican Sen. Patrick Testin of Stevens Point and Rep. Ken Skowronski of Franklin have introduced the Wisconsin Credit for Caring Act, designed to shrink the financial burden on caregivers by providing a tax credit. They've also put forward the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act or C.A.R.E. to make sure those caring for loved ones can get accurate information such as medication management when the person they are caring for is released from a hospital or another facility.

Michael Bruhn, state public policy director with the Wisconsin chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, said it's time to care for those who care.

"We have 195,000 family caregivers in the state of Wisconsin that are providing 220 million total hours of unpaid care at a value of more than $2.8 billion every year," Bruhn said.

A similar bill providing tax credits was proposed last session but failed to pass due to its estimated cost of $173 million, according to its sponsor. The Caregiver Task force will continue its work in the meantime, with its next scheduled meeting on October 25.

Bruhn said both proposals are widely supported, and they are similar to measures passed in other states across the nation.

"There is broad bipartisan support among the electorate for these two proposals, whether you're talking Republicans, Democrats, independents," he said.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the total lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia was estimated at $350,174 in 2018. Caregivers Task Force co-chairman Todd Costello said since the state increased funding for personal-care services by $91 million to help people in their own homes, some of those funds can be used to increase wages and benefits for caregivers.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - WI