There are nearly 200,000 caregivers in Nebraska, according to Nebraska AARP.
In an effort to better support them, the organization is promoting four bills during the upcoming legislative session:
- A tax credit to reimburse families for some of the costs associated with caregiving
- Allow hours for caregiving as part of paid family and medical leave
- Provide workplace protections, so employers could not discriminate against family caregivers.
- Allow assisted living facilities to employ a registered nurse on a part-time or intermittent basis to treat residents
Jina Ragland, Nebraska AARP associate state director for advocacy and outreach, says right now, nurses employed by a facility are limited in what they can do.
“It was created to keep the line differentiated between an assisted living [facility] and long-term care [facility],” Ragland tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They didn’t want to muddy the waters that you were providing long-term care services in assisted living facilities, so it was kind of a line in the sand drawn to differentiate between the two.”
A bill state senators will consider allows in-facility nurses to perform their duties on a part-time or intermitten basis.
The paid family and medical leave proposal would create an insurance program to provide income replacement for eligible employees who take care of a family member.
“It similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act,” Ragland explains. “It covers an employee who utilizes the insurance program. It also restores their same position when they do return.”
Another bill would add family care responsibilities as a protected class under the state Fair Employment Practice Act.
The proposed tax credit would benefit Nebraskans who provide care in their own home to someone else.
Ragland says you would have to fall within 400 percent of the federal poverty level to claim the tax credit.
“They also have to reside and provide care to an individual with disabilities for at least six months during the year,” she says. “The tax credit would be refundable for caregivers whose income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and it’s non-refundable for those caregivers whose income is between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.”
The tax credit would be $300 and the state Department of Revenue estimates its cost at up to $7 Million a year.