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Urgent Lifespan Respite Care Act Legislative Alert

August/September May Be Last Chance to Urge Your Legislator to Cosponsor the Bill
National Respite Coalition

August 11, 2006

Last week, both the House and Senate recessed for the August District work period and to campaign for the November elections. Legislators will return to work on September 5th. These next few weeks are critical for contacting Members and Senators and urging them to take action on the Lifespan Respite Care Act (HR 3248, S 1283). As you know, the 109th Congress is scheduled to complete most work by early October (with an expected lame duck session after the November elections), so we have very few legislative days left to get the bill enacted.

This summer, the National Respite Coalition has been working diligently with House and Senate staff to secure a date for consideration of the Lifespan Respite Care Act before the 109th Congress adjourns. Significant progress has been made thanks to our Congressional champions Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) and Senators Warner (R-VA) and Clinton (D-NY). We have been told that there is a very good chance the bill will be considered in September when the House takes up other important health legislation, and that the Senate will follow House action.

However, no final commitment has been made for either the House or Senate to consider the legislation before the 109th Congress adjourns in October. A vote on the Lifespan Respite Care Act is much more likely if House and Senate Members hear from constituents in the next few week.s. If Congress fails to enact the Lifespan Respite Care Act before the October deadline, the process will have to start anew in January. Now is the most critical time to voice support for the bill with your legislators and get them to take action.

What Can You Do?

Even if you have already contacted your Representative or Senators, frequent reminders to local district office or DC staff are essential � especially in this election year. If your Members have signed onto the bill, please take a moment to call and thank them.

For list of current House Lifespan Respite C are Act cosponsors see:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/.../z?d109:HR03248:@@@N

For list of current Senate cosponsors see:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/.../z?d109:SN01283:@@@N

In- Person Visits are The Best

If your Represenative or Senator has not yet cosponsored the bill, the August recess provides an excellent opportunity to meet with them locally in person or visit with their staff. As they campaign for November elections, there may be opportunities to attend scheduled town hall meetings or other forums and talk with them as well. Check your local phone directory for their district office phone numbers and addresses.

Phone Calls to DC Health LAs are also Effective

To contact your legislator�s office, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 and ask for the Senator�s or Representative�s office. Then ask for the Health Legislative Assistant (LA).

Email the Health LA Directly

Email to the Health LA is much more effective and direct than emailing the Representative or Senator directly. Visit www.congress.org and click on the page for your Representative or Senator, then click on Staff. Identify the Health LA and email them directly. All formats for House and Senate email are as follows:

House:

firstname.lastname@mail.house.gov (e.g. joe.smith@mail.house.gov)

Senate:

firstname_lastname@Senator�slastname.senate.gov (e.g., joe_smith@clinton.senate.gov)

Sample message for legislators:

Dear Representative or Senator _________:

Please cosponsor the Lifespan Respite Care Act (HR 3248, S 1283). The bill authorizes competitive grants to states to make quality respite available and accessible to family caregivers, regardless of age, disability, or family situation. Respite, the most frequently requested family support service among the more than 50 million family caregivers nationwide, provides family caregivers with relief necessary to maintain their own health, bolster family stability, keep marriages intact, and avoid or delay much more costly nursing home or foster care placements.

At a time when we are especially constrained by serious budget considerations, we should note the savings inherent in supporting cost-effective services such as respite. By delaying placement in a nursing facility for even one individual with Alzheimer's or other serious chronic conditions for just a few months, thousands of dollars of Medicaid savings alone could potentially be realized.

Respite, however, is in short supply or inaccessible for all age groups. In our own state of _________________, respite is desperately needed for all family caregivers. [Fill in any need or outcome data you may have or personalize it to your own family's needs]

The Lifespan Respite Care Act is based on model Lifespan Respite Systems in Oregon, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. These systems provide easy access to an array of affordable, quality respite services; ensure flexibility to meet diverse needs; and assist with locating, training, and paying respite providers. We know Lifespan Respite Systems work. Cosponsor the bill today.

Share this alert widely with friends, colleagues, coalition members, families, caregivers and network members. Visit, call or write today!!

For more information, including guidance on how to conduct a legislative office visit, please contact:

Jill Kagan,
National Respite Coalition,
703-256-9578
or by email at
jbkagan@verizon.net
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