June 16,2004

Grassley on Long-term Care Tax Items in New Alzheimer's Bill

Statement of Sen. Chuck Grassley
on the Inclusion of His Long-term Care Tax Provisions
in the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I appreciate the work of my colleagues, Senators Bond and Mikulski, and others, to increasethe nation’s commitment to Alzheimer’s research and to improve Americans’ options for long-termcare. From my experience as then-chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, and now aschairman of the Committee on Finance, I’ve heard from many Americans about their struggles toafford long-term care services, such as home visits from nurses or assisted living. As people age andface debilitating illnesses, they want to stay in their homes as long as possible with the comforts ofhome and family and friends. Millions of people are wondering how to pay for long-term care forthemselves and their loved ones. They’re also caring for family members to keep them at home andout of nursing homes.

In the last three Congresses, Sen. Bob Graham and I have introduced the Long-Term Careand Retirement Security Act to ease the tremendous cost of long-term care. The bill would allowindividuals a tax deduction for the cost of long-term care insurance premiums. Increasingly,Americans are interested in private long-term care insurance to pay for nursing home stays, assistedliving, home health aides, and other services. However, most people find the policies unaffordable.

The younger the person is at the time the long-care insurance contract is purchased, the lower theinsurance premium, yet most people are not ready to buy a policy until retirement. A deduction forlong-term care insurance premiums would encourage more people to buy a long-term care insurancepolicy.

Our proposal would also give individuals or their care givers a $3,000 tax credit to help covertheir long-term care expenses. This would apply to those who have been certified by a doctor asneeding help with at least three activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing or dressing. Thiscredit would help care givers pay for medical supplies, nursing care and any other expenses incurredwhile caring for family members with disabilities.

I’m very pleased that Senators Bond and Mikulski have included these provisions in theirRonald Reagan Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2004. An aging nation has no time to waste inpreparing for long-term care, and the need to help people afford long-term care is more pressing thanever. President and Mrs. Reagan showed the nation how to weather a debilitating disease of agingwith as much dignity and peace as possible. I hope we can help other Americans who face suchillness follow that model.