Friday, May 23, 2008

Urge Funding to Assist Family Caregivers

Respite care for family caregivers is among the most critically necessary and beneficial family support services for those living with multiple sclerosis. Although the Lifespan Respite Care Act was signed into federal law in December 2006, Congress still has not provided the funding needed to make quality care available to family caregivers, regardless of their age or disability.

Those families need your help. Click here and enter your ZIP code to send an e-mail to your Senators and Representatives urging them to support $53.3 million for the Lifespan Respite Care Act in the FY 2009 Labor-Health & Human Services-Education (Labor-H) appropriations bills.

Respite care is temporary care for a patient with the intention of providing relief for the primary caregivers. An estimated 50 million family caregivers nationwide provide 80% of long-term care. For individuals who provide care to family members with conditions like MS, it's important to have assistance. In fact, respite care is the most frequently requested family support service, and it has been shown to help family caregivers maintain their own health and improve family life. Read more about the Lifespan Respite Care Act here.

In addition to e-mailing your legislators, we encourage you to make an appointment to meet in person with your Senators or Representative during the May 23-June 2 Memorial Day district work period to let them know about this important program and necessary funding. To locate their district office, click here.

Earlier this year, 29 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education urging full funding ($53.3 million) for the Lifespan Respite Care program in the FY09 Labor-HHS appropriations bill. In addition on March 13, 2008, the Senate passed an amendment, offered by Senator Hillary Clinton (NY) and Senator John Warner (VA), to the Senate Budget Resolution reserving $53 million for Lifespan Respite programs in the Federal Budget. While this amendment does not guarantee funding, it is a critically important step and will make it easier to secure funding during the current appropriations process.

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