GORE I: Proposes $30B Plan for Eldercare
Vice President Al Gore pledged yesterday to support the growing number of elderly Americans and their caregivers through a program he dubbed the "national caregiving and family support initiative," the Los Angeles Times reports. During his campaign visit to Palm Springs, Calif., Gore announced his $30 billion, 10-year proposal to fund an annual $3,000 tax credit for recipients of long term care and family members who care for them. Between $3 billion and $4 billion of the plan would fund other parts of the initiative, including financing for states to expand the availability of adult day care, respite care and home care services. Gore also seeks to establish a network of "one-stop-shop" resource centers that would provide respite care and information concerning counseling services and care providers. Currently, five million Americans need long term care due to disability and chronic illnesses, putting a great financial burden on their families. That number is expected to rise as baby boomers retire (Gold, 6/8). Basing his proposal on his experience finding care for his live-in mother-in-law, Gore acknowledged that "[a] lot of families are not fortunate enough to have the resources to handle those expenses very easily. It's been too long that we've asked these Americans to carry a near-crushing burden without the help they need" (Sobieraj, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/8).
In other Gore news, the vice president has stated that he wants to ensure that excess Medicare funds are used exclusively to reduce the overall federal debt, and he is reviewing the idea of placing extra Medicare money in a protected account, the Washington Post reports. National economic adviser Gene Sperling said, "We're going to review the idea carefully, but it seems like a great idea for locking in fiscal discipline and protecting the integrity of Medicare." Until 2000, Medicare did not generate substantial surpluses, but over the next decade, those surpluses are expected to grow tremendously, and Gore is determined to "earmark that money to demonstrate his commitment to the program before it can be targeted for other uses." His Medicare proposal would have no effect on current recipients, although yesterday Gore repeated his desire to add prescription drug coverage to the premium-paid portion of Medicare (Balz/Connolly, 6/8).