In Falmouth, King backs tax credits for family caregivers

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FALMOUTH — Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King on Tuesday announced support for legislation to make it easier to care for an aging relative.

His remarks came during a visit to the Stewart Adult Day Center on Lunt Road.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by four senators, would provide a tax credit to family caregivers to alleviate expenses associated with providing care.

King toured the facility, which provides services to adults with memory impairments, and participated in a panel discussion with Stewart Center staff and others on challenges surrounding providing support.

He told the panel and those in attendance it is  “no secret” Maine’s population is aging, but it is also no secret that people generally want to stay in their homes. He said he wanted ideas on how to delay sending people to nursing homes.

“To the extent we can delay that day is good for everybody,” King said.

The discussion, held in the Lunt Auditorium on Lunt Road, included representatives from the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Bath Housing, Spectrum Generations, Maine Women’s Policy Center, and Maine AARP.

Following the event, King said challenges associated with an aging population are facing Maine, and that too often caregivers have to reach into their own pockets to pay for things like home modifications that allow family members to stay in their homes.

“This is a wave that’s coming towards us,” the senator said.

The bill co-sponsored by King, called the Credit for Care Act, would provide up to a $3,000 nonrefundable tax credit to family members who serve as caregivers. 

“If we can provide modest support … that’s a savings to taxpayers and a benefit to seniors,” King said.

King said his biggest takeaways from the panel were that Medicare funding needs to be oriented more toward preventing medical issues, rather than just reacting to them. During the discussion he said prevention tactics could include modifying a home to improve safety.

Much of the panel discussion centered on the role of family caregivers. Laurence Gross, SMAA executive director, said families tend to have trouble finding caregivers for older or disabled relatives, and King said “caregivers are part of the solution.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, center, participated in a panel discussion July 19 at the Stewart Adult Day Center in Falmouth, where he announced support for tax credits for family caregivers.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.