President Clinton has come up with a plan that would help elderly Americans and those caring for aging parents. . . .
At the core is a provision that would give a $1,000-a-year tax credit to people who need long-term care in a nursing home or at home. With nursing home costs averaging more than $46,000 a year, such a tax credit might not seem like much. But remember that it's $1,000 more in tax credit than currently permissible. . . .
Under current law, the government does not pay for long-term care until a beneficiary exhausts all financial resources. . . . Clinton's plan reflects the overdue realization of the need to do more to help aging Americans who are living longer. It marks the first time since the collapse of Clinton's efforts to reform health care in 1994 that there has been a significant attempt to address long-term care needs.
The proposed tax credit, which would be funded by eliminating several corporate taxes, would also be made available to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Further, Clinton would provide long-term care insurance for federal workers as a model for other employers. . . .
The biggest drawback is that people with incomes so low that they don't have to pay federal taxes would not be helped. About half of the nation's elderly fall into that category. Though some qualify for long-term care through Medicaid, efforts still need to be made to ensure that more of them receive assistance. . . .