Advocates push for changes to senior care on federal level

Virginia

Advocates say using HSA funds would make care more accessible for seniors.

WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Winchester resident Linda Mast has worked with personal caretakers for several years, first for her husband who had Parkinson’s Disease and later for herself.

“We had Home Instead come in for that and just in the evenings, and it really helped him,” Mast said. “When I started getting so ill we decided that’s what we wanted to do, to get into the program.”

But for some families, the cost of taking care of a relative can be prohibitive, often requiring a family caregiver to stop working. That’s why proponents of House Bill 2878, known as the Homecare for Seniors Act, want lawmakers to allow homecare to be covered by Health Savings Accounts, known as HSAs. The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Porter, a Democrat from California, and Congressman Adrian Smith, a Republican from Nebraska.

“It would allow the family caregiver who is working to use some of their reserve in HSA to provide care for mom or dad,” said Phylis Hegstrom, Home Instead’s director of government affairs.

Although the bill is a federal issue, local state-level elected officials met with Hegstrom and other advocates in the homecare industry Wednesday morning to learn more about the measure and show their support. They say this measure could help constituents, especially as the area’s population continues to grow.

“It is certainly an access issue in the more rural communities around the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Virginia State Sen. Jill Vogel, a Republican who represents the 27th district. “Where they have a very difficult time accessing physicians, getting physicians–especially specialty physicians–to come to those communities.”

Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Virginia’s 29th district agreed.

“We’re talking about elderly people with their families in a small town,” Collins said. “Being able to have someone come to them and take care of them obviously is going to improve the quality of life for everybody involved.”

The bill still has a ways to go before it becomes a law, but advocates are hopeful Congress will pass the measure as part of a larger tax bill.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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