Gore And Lieberman Court Seniors

The former Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens, delivers the long-awaited official British police report into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London Thursday Dec. 14, 2006. The inquiry concluded that the deaths of Princess Diana and her companion in a 1997 Paris car crash were a "tragic accident."
AP Photo/Sang Tan
Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman are trying to win over senior citizens and their adult children in Florida with a $3,000 tax credit to help with the costs of long-term care.

The Democratic candidates for president and vice president Wednesday were visiting Kings Point, an adult residential community located in an area of Florida Tamarac, between Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton, known for attracting winter vacationers and retirees.

"I believe we need to cut taxes to help families care for a loved one who is aging or has a disability," Gore said in a written statement before the event. "Millions more Americans are facing the prospect of needing long-term care or needing to provide care for a loved one."

Florida, with 25 electoral votes, could go either way this year in the election. A poll taken in July by the American Research Group showed that Gore and George W. Bush were statistically even.

President Clinton won Florida in 1996 and Democrats say they can take it again this year, though Bush's brother, Jeb, is the governor. In 1988 and 1992, the Bushes' father won the state.

After Gore's appearance, Bush will take a turn in the Florida spotlight on Thursday. Then Gore will return on Monday, with a visit to Tallahassee.

Issues that Gore has been focusing on - including Social Security and health care - are "very potent issues in Florida," said the candidate's communications director, Mark Fabiani.

As for the issue of caring for the elderly, Gore has been telling audiences in recent speeches that his wife's mother lives with the Gore family and that his own mother requires round-the-clock care.

"We know firsthand what it's like to care for an aging loved one," Gore said in his statement. "It takes time and energy, and families need help."

Gore has advocated a package of proposals to make health care more affordable on the way to his ultimate goal - universal health insurance.

For caregivers, who are often the children of senior citizens or the parents of a sick or disabled child, Gore offers a $3,000 tax credit to compensate for long-term health care needs, such as home care, adult day care and respite services.

Gore also advocates a national program that supports families who care for elderly relatives with chronic diseases and disabilities through counseling, caregiver training and other support services.

Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said Wednesday: "The Clinton-Gore administration has talked about making long-term care more affordable for more than six years and has failed to get it done. ... Governor Bush will bring a new tone and leadership to Washington so that families can finally receive the long-term care they've been promised."

Bush has proposed an income tax deduction for anyone buying long-term care insurance. The deduction, now available only to people who itemize deductions and have big medical expenses, wold apply to everyone except those already on employer-subsidized long-term care plans.

The potential deduction varies. An insurance plan for two years of nursing home care could range from $358 for those aged 35-39 to $2,638 annually for those aged 70-74.

Gore spokesman Douglas Hattaway said that during his speech, Gore would bring up his plan to add a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program. The plan would cover 50 percent of senior citizens' drug costs up to $5,000 annually.

Gore also was promising to enact a so-called "patients' bill or rights" that would ensure doctors can offer all options, not just the least expensive ones.

An estimated 5 million Americans require long-term care and two-thirds of them are elderly.