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Hillary Clinton latches on to caregiver support issue

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Hillary Clinton has borrowed a page from life and health insurers’ playbook this month and proposed offering a tax credit of up to $1,200 for middle-income families that are caring for parents or grandparents, or for relatives with disabilities.

Clinton unveiled the tax credit Sunday, according to press reports.

She says in a summary on her campaign website that the tax credit could pay 20 percent of families’ caregiving costs, up to a maximum of $6,000 in costs.

She has also proposed looking for a way to reduce the impact of caregiving on the caregivers’ Social Security benefits, and investing $10 million per year over 10 years in a new federal caregiver respite program, to give caregivers temporary breaks from caregiving responsibilities.

See also: LTCI Watch: Where’s the woof?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) included a voluntary, government-run long-term care (LTC) benefits program that was killed after Medicare actuaries ruled that the program might be unsustainable. Clinton has not proposed the return of the PPACA LTC benefits program or the creation of a similar LTC benefits program.

Clinton made her caregiver support announcement as the private long-term care insurance (LTCI) community was nearing the end of this month’s Long-Term Care Awareness Month campaign.

See also: GAO sees older Americans still suffering

Low interest rates and problems with predicting claims have made offering the kinds of comprehensive LTCI products insurers used to promote challenging this year.

Insurers, distributors and retail financial professionals have responded by focusing even more than in the past on the importance of supporting providers of informal care, and less on specific financing vehicles.

Northwestern Mutual, LifeSecure, Genworth and other companies all made major efforts to highlight caregivers’ needs.

Many of the caregiver-related efforts could be used almost as easily by agents selling Medicare plans, disability insurance, or any other life or health product as by LTC planners.

See also: LTCI Watch: Ben Carson

Northwestern Mutual, for example, released a survey report in which analysts pointed out that caregivers get many emotional rewards from providing care in addition to suffering emotional costs.

Similarly, Genworth released a survey report, “Beyond Dollars,” that looked at how caregiving affects the caregiver and the care recipient.

Based on that survey, Genworth came up with four top lessons from the survey participants’ experiences:

  1. Plan better.

  2. Get help from others, to make taking breaks possible.

  3. Make sure that medical directives are in place, and that potential caregivers understand the medical directives.

  4. Think about LTC financial options ahead of time.