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IN THIS ISSUE:
The Stroke Advocacy Network (SAN) has worked diligently to push legislation in the House (H.R. 713) and the Senate (S.367) that would permanently repeal the $1,920 cap on occupational and $1,920 for speech and physical therapy services for Medicare recipients. This fall, SAN joined a larger campaign in an effort to secure a bipartisan majority of legislators co-sponsoring the repeal, which would put pressure on Congressional leadership to hold a vote on the bills. The target number of co-sponsors for the repeal was 218 Representatives in the House and 51 Senators in the Senate. Fortunately, SAN and coalition partners surpassed the goal for the House bill with 222 co-sponsors. Although we have not yet achieved a full repeal, this is a major milestone in SAN’s advocacy efforts and we would like to thank everyone who participated in the campaign.
What does this mean for the future? While this is just one step on the journey toward making the caps a thing of the past, it’s an important step. For the last 17 years, stroke survivors on Medicare who have reached the caps have had to manage their care on a piecemeal basis, through a difficult exceptions process. While Congress has extended the exceptions process annually, with the current exception expiring on March 31, 2015, this is not enough. When the new Congressional session starts in January, your job as a member of the Stroke Advocacy Network will be to help returning and new members of Congress
Repealing Medicare’s caps on outpatient therapy services has been, and will continue to be, a top legislative priority for National Stroke Association. We need your help to make the repeal a reality!
Now that the national elections have passed, members of Congress will return to Washington on November 12 for the final session of the 113th Congress. While many legislators will not return for the next Congress, which starts in January 2015, they will still need to act on several issues before Congress adjourns in December.
So what does all this mean for stroke-related legislation? Because new members of Congress will not be sworn in until January, current members of Congress, whether they have won or not, will still be considering controversial issues such as a permanent repeal of the Medicare Therapy Caps. At the start of the next legislative session, which will be the 114th, all legislative initiatives will need to be reintroduced, including the bills our community has supported, such as the Return to Work Act and the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act. In addition, Stroke Advocacy Network members will have a role to play in familiarizing new legislators with the challenges facing the stroke survivors and their families. While debates over NIH and NINDS funding will likely be heated in the new Congress, bipartisan legislation, such as those bills related to telemedicine and return to work, may continue to gain momentum. National Stroke Association will work with Congressional allies and new members on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the stroke community’s needs are considered in the remainder of this session and in the 114th Congress.
The Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act would provide a $1,200 tax credit for family members providing long-term care to elderly relatives affected by a range of conditions, including stroke. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this bill, and we're hopeful that a similar bill will be introduced in the House soon.
The AGE Act would reduce the financial burden faced by households that spend an average of $5,500 in out-of-pocket caregiving expenses annually. The tax credits in the AGE Act would cover 25 percent or more of these expenses, allowing caregivers to focus less on financial concerns and more on the medical, emotional, and other needs of their loved one. You can help make this happen by taking this simple action today. Contact your legislators and ask them to support this important legislation!
For over 30 years we have been the trusted source for free resources and education to the stroke community. Together, we empower survivors and their circle of care to thrive after stroke. Make your tax-deductible donation today to support the growing needs of the stroke community.