Kathleen Kelly, the Executive Director of Family Caregiver Alliance sent this letter to the ten Representatives that comprise the Bay Area delegation in the US House of Representatives.
On behalf of the National Center on Caregiving at Family Caregiver Alliance, I am writing to express our strong concern about a vote scheduled this week in the U.S. House of Representatives for HR 1171 that would repeal the CLASS (Community Living Assistance and Supports) Act.
Staff at our organization work with family caregivers every day through our national information and referral hotline and through our local Caregiver Resource Center. One of the most-often asked questions by caregivers is whether or not there are any programs to assist with the financial strain of being a caregiver.
Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, especially in its advanced stages, and keeping a job is nearly impossible. The same can be said for caregivers of a loved one with multiple conditions, or who are undergoing chemotherapy, or who simply need assistance with daily activities like eating, dressing and showering. In addition to a reduced income, most caregivers take on additional expenses.
Family caregivers are shocked when about the cost of nursing home care, with an average cost of a semi-private room of over $78,000 in 2011 (Met Life 2011 Survey). Medicaid, the de-facto largest payer of long-term care (outside of the $450 billion in “free” care provided by family caregivers) has been described as a “”highly imperfect form of insurance as it essentially comes with a deductible of nearly all of your income and assets.” (Insuring Long Term Care in the US).
Professor Richard Kaplan explained that while family caregivers provide care “without charge,” this is not the same as “without cost.” Long-term care is something that 2/3 of Americans will eventually need, but our system for paying for long-term care is broken. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day for the next 19 years, this need will only increase.
We ask you to vote against the repeal of the CLASS Act and we strongly encourage Congress to re-commit itself to finding solutions to our current system.
Kathleen A. Kelly
Editor’s note: For more resources/information on the need to address the current system of long-term care financing, visit these resources:
3) FCA’s CLASS Round-Up: Listing of 22 Reports/Media Accounts on the CLASS Program