- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2000

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. Al Gore yesterday outlined a $30 billion, 10-year proposal of tax credits, Medicaid coverage and other help for family caregivers that he said was based on his experience finding care for his live-in mother-in-law.

The Democratic presidential candidate, a member of the "sandwich generation" caring both for children and elderly parents, promoted his "eldercare" initiative at a Palm Springs senior citizens center as he launched a three-day campaigning and fund-raising sweep up the West Coast.

At the core of his proposal and accounting for the bulk of its $30 billion price tag is a $3,000-per-year tax credit for people who need long-term care or who provide such care at home to an elderly or disabled relative or friend.

The vice president would also establish a grant program, at $2.5 billion over 10 years, for communities to provide adult day care and respite care intended to give stressed-out caregivers an occasional break.

According to advocacy groups, more than 22 million American households are caring for elderly people. Mr. Gore's mother-in-law, Margaret Ann Aitcheson, lives with him, his wife and their high-school-age son in the vice presidential residence at Washington's Naval Observatory.

The Gores pay for a round-the-clock home health aide for Mrs. Aitcheson. His own mother, who lives in Tennessee, also has a 24-hour aide.

The overwhelming majority of caregivers are women. And many, like the Gores, have dependent children or grandchildren as well as older folks in their care.

Mr. Gore is repackaging his agenda all of which, he says, can be paid for out of a projected federal budget surplus.

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