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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 4, 1998
                          January 4, 1999

Today, President Clinton is unveiling an historic new initiative to support Americans with long-term care needs and the millions of family members who care for them. This four-part, $6.2 billion (over five years) initiative takes important steps to address complex long-term care needs through: (1) an unprecedented $1,000 tax credit that compensates, for formal or informal costs, Americans of all ages with long-term care needs or the family caregivers who support them; (2) a new National Family Caregivers Support Program that provides a range of critical services for caregivers such as respite, home care services, and information and referral; (3) a national campaign to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the programs' limited coverage and how best to evaluate long-term care options; and (4) a proposal to have the Federal government serve as a model employer by offering quality private long-term care insurance to Federal employees at group rates.

The President will be joined by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary Rubin, Secretary Shalala, and OPM Director LaChance to unveil this initiative at the White House. The Vice President and Mrs. Gore are participating from an adult day care center in California, one of four states with model statewide family caregiving resource programs.


More and more Americans have a range of long-term care needs. Over five million Americans have significant limitations due to illness or disability and thus require long-term care. Approximately two-thirds are older Americans. Also, millions of adults and a growing number of children have long-term care needs because of health conditions from birth or a chronic illness developed later in life.

The aging of Americans will only increase the need for quality long-term care options. The number of Americans age 65 years or older will double by 2030 (from 34.3 to 69.4 million), so that one in five Americans will be elderly. The number of people 85 years or older, nearly half of whom need assistance with everyday activities, will grow even faster (from 4.0 to 8.4 million).

MULTI-FACETED INITIATIVE TO SUPPORT FAMILY CAREGIVERS AND ADDRESS GROWING LONG TERM CARE NEEDS. The President is unveiling a four-part initiative that is designed to address the broad-based and varied long-term care needs. It will: (1) provide immediate support and assistance for the millions of Americans who care for family members with major long-term care needs; (2) educate the elderly and people with disabilities about long-term care issues and options; and (3) promote new promising strategy directions for long-term care policy for the twenty-first century. The President is also asking the Vice President to host a series of forums around the nation to raise awareness about the need to support family caregivers and address the growing need for long-term care options.

The long-term care proposal being unveiled today by the President and Vice President includes:

Supporting families with long-term care needs through an historic $1,000 tax credit. This initiative, for the first time, acknowledges and supports millions of Americans with long-term care needs or the family members who care for and house their ill or disabled relatives through a $1,000 tax credit. This new tax credit supports the diverse needs of families by compensating a wide range of formal or informal long-term care for people of all ages with three or more limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs) or a comparable cognitive impairment. This proposal, which supports rather than supplants family caregiving, would provide needed financial support to about 2 million Americans, including 1.2 million older Americans, over 500,000 non-elderly adults, and approximately 250,000 children. It costs $5.5 billion over five years and phases out beginning at $110,000 for couples and $75,000 for unmarried taxpayers.

Creating an unprecedented National Family Caregiver Support Program. Recent studies have found that services like respite care can relieve caregiver stress and delay nursing home entry, and that support for families of Alzheimer's disease patients can delay institionalization for as long as a year. This new nationwide program, strongly advocated by the Vice President, would support families who care for elderly relatives with chronic illnesses or disabilities by enabling states to create "one-stop-shops" that provide: quality respite care and other support services; critical information about community-based long-term services that best meet a families' needs; and counseling and support, such as teaching model approaches for caregivers that are coping with new responsibilities and offering training for complex care needs, such as feeding tubes. This program, which costs $625 million over five years, would assist approximately 250,000 families nationwide.

Launching a national campaign to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the programs' limited coverage of long-term care and how best to evaluate their options. Nearly 60 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are unaware that Medicare does not cover most long-term care, and many do not know what long-term care services would best meet their needs. This $10 million nationwide campaign would provide all 39 million Medicare beneficiaries with critical information about long-term care options including: what long-term care Medicare does and does not cover; how to find out about Medicaid long-term care coverage; what to look for in a quality private long-term care policy; and how to access information about home-and community-based care services that best fit beneficiaries' needs.

Having the Federal government serve as a model employer by offering quality private long-term care insurance to Federal employees. The President will also call on Congress to pass a new proposal that allows OPM to use its market leverage and set a national example by offering non-subsidized, quality private long-term care insurance to all federal employees, retirees, and their families at group rates. This proposal, that costs $15 million over five years, will provide employers a nationwide model for offering quality long-term care insurance. OPM anticipates that approximately 300,000 Federal employees would participate in this program.