Ernst Pushes Colleagues to Provide Relief to Family Caregivers


WASHINGTON – As negotiations on a future COVID-19 relief package continue in the Senate, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is urging her colleagues to support her bipartisan Credit for Caring Act, and include, at a minimum, a modified or temporary version of this bill in the next relief package to help address the financial challenges caregivers in Iowa and across the country are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to her colleagues, Ernst writes: “While family caregiver shortages existed prior to the onset of COVID-19, this current crisis is only amplifying the critical work of caregivers who support the daily needs of those who may be at greater risk to this virus and who require greater support at home. This pandemic has led to family members taking on critical caregiver roles as they provide for their loves ones, while also managing financial strains and economic uncertainty.”

She goes onto say: “…In 2016, on average, family caregivers spent nearly 20% of their income on out-of-pocket expenses to support their loved one. This has caused individuals to sacrifice financial savings, retirement, or even their own health care expenses. COVID-19 further exasperates this issue as individuals providing care face added financial stress due to economic hardship brought on by this pandemic, such as unplanned expenses, furloughs, layoffs, or reduced work hours.”

AARP Iowa State Director, Brad Anderson, said, “The Credit for Caring Act would provide some much-needed financial relief to eligible family caregivers in Iowa and across the country. Iowans providing care for loved ones are facing greater strains during the COVID-19 crisis. We appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Senator Ernst and her colleagues to try to include this important bill in future COVID-19 legislation.”

Read the full letter here.

Background:

According to AARP, there are 300,000 family caregivers in Iowa. AARP also found that the unpaid contributions of family caregivers in Iowa are valued at $3.8 billion annually. Ernst has introduced a bipartisan, bicameral Credit for Caring Act whichwould provide working family caregivers with a nonrefundable tax credit up to $3,000 to assist with out-of-pocket expenses related to caregiving. This tax credit for caregivers can be used toward expenses such as transportation, home modifications to accommodate a family member, medication management services, and training or education for the caregiver.

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are cosponsoring the bipartisan legislation in the Senate and have signed onto the letter to their colleagues. U.S. Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) have introduced a similar bill in the House.

For a one page summary of the Credit for Caring Act, click here.