WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rick Santorum introduced legislation yesterday that would create new tax incentives for Americans to save for long term home healthcare.
The Pennsylvania Republican said the legislation was the product of his conversations over the past year with older Pennsylvanians struggling to pay for home health care as their medical problems become more complicated.
Mr. Santorum said the measure was also an attempt to reduce the dependency of America's seniors on Medicaid. The cost of the federal program -- originally intended to provide health care for the poor -- has exploded in recent years as increasing numbers of seniors have depended on the program to pay for care in their later years such as nursing home costs, after draining their own assets.
Mr. Santorum's legislation includes four major provisions, according to his aides.:
1. The legislation would allow employers to create new programs for their employees that allow them to set aside pre-tax dollars for long-term care insurance in the same way employees can currently set aside money for 401K plans.
2. It would relax the rules for Flexible Spending Accounts by allowing employees to use money in those accounts for adult day care, home health care or respite care for any family member including parents, siblings, children, spouses or in-laws.
3. It would also create "long term care accounts" intended for individuals who may have trouble getting long term care insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as HIV or disabilities or those who cannot afford the insurance for medical care in later years.
4. The final change would allow for the creation of programs that combine annuities and long term care insurance.
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