Friday, January 26, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Recently, Americans who had high health care costs faced a big tax increase just because of their medical expenses. Senator Susan Collins was one of several leaders in Congress who fought back against the measure. She and her colleagues helped to ensure the medical expense deduction was maintained, including restoring a 7.5 percent income threshold for two years. This allows families to deduct large expenses like wheelchairs, prescription drugs and home care costs. 

Millions of older Americans, including over 35,000 in Maine, depend on the health tax credit to afford their health care needs. According to the IRS, 56 percent of those taking the medical expense deduction are age 65 or older. Without being able to deduct these expenses, many would struggle to afford their home care equipment and medicines, and be forced to dip into their hard-earned retirement savings.  

I want to thank Senator Collins for her efforts to restore the medical expense deduction and for sparing middle class families from being penalized simply because they have high medical costs.

Jeff Fowler
AARP Maine Volunteer Advisory Council Member

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the 178,000 unpaid family caregivers who reside in our state, AARP Maine applauds Senator Susan Collins for her leadership in sponsoring the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act. AARP was pleased to endorse this important legislation and we thank Senator Collins for her efforts to work on a bipartisan basis to support family caregivers here in Maine and across the country.  

Every day, millions of Americans provide care for parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones to help them live independently in their homes and communities. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which now awaits the president’s signature, requires the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. The bill creates an advisory body to bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors to advise and make recommendations. The strategy will identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and others can take to recognize and support family caregivers. 

Family caregivers take on a range of tasks including managing medications, helping with bathing and dressing, preparing and feeding meals, arranging transportation, and handling financial and legal matters. The unpaid care that family caregivers provide in Maine is valued at 2.1 billion dollars annually. 

By supporting family caregivers, we can help older adults stay at home where they want to be. Delaying or preventing more costly nursing home care and unnecessary hospitalizations saves taxpayer dollars. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is an important step in the right direction and AARP appreciates Senator Collins’ commitment to family caregivers and their loved ones.

Lori Parham
AARP Maine State Director

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