Congress is still debating annual appropriations measures, delayed in part by a lengthy process to determine additional spending on defense for fiscal year 2003 and 2004.
The bill which funds the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) has been approved by both the House and Senate. While the House proposed $168 million for the NFCSP, the Senate approved only $155 million, the same funding level as fiscal year 2003. Now negotiators— or "conferees"— must hammer out differences between the two bills, and the final bill must be approved by the President before going into effect. More information on all appropriations measures, including the Labor/HHS/Education spending bill, can be found at: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app04.html
Congress will not adjourn for the year until all spending measures have been passed. Other legislation, such as the Family Caregiver Relief Act of 2003 (S.1214) which would provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 to help pay the expenses of families who care for loved ones with chronic care needs, and the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2004 (S. 538/H.R. 1083) are also still pending. They will remain active for consideration through 2004, despite the annual Congressional recess. This is because bills in Congress remain active for the entire length of a Congress—a two year span.
Legislators need to hear from families providing care to ill or elderly loved ones. To request that your congressional representatives become cosponsors of these important bills, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and you will be transferred to the appropriate office.
For more information on current caregiving and long-term care legislation, see the FCA Caregiving PolicyDigest.
E-mail to a Friend