WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocates maintain that Americans are simply not planning ahead to make their homes safe and practical to live out their long 21st century lives. A new bill recently introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) – the Home Modification for Accessibility Act (H.R. 7676) – provides tax incentives to homeowners to proactively update their houses for aging in place.
“The DME sector has been providing accessibility products for a long time,” said Louis Tenenbaum, co-founder of the HomesRenewed Coalition, one of the driving forces behind this legislation. “Yet, we have been unable to generate proactive demand for these products. Sales will grow if consumers make their homes accessible before they are in a health crisis. Additional benefits and health cost savings will grow too. This bill has the power to overcome cost-related hesitations and grow the market for modifications. Remember how quickly the market for solar installations and hybrid cars grew from incentives? This bill is modeled after those successes.”
H.R. 7676 offers $30,000 lifetime benefit for singles or $60,000 for couples who file jointly; an above the line tax deduction in the amount spent (whether using retirement or other funds) after 59½; and use of 401K or IRA funds without tax or penalty for early withdrawal before 59½, when used on eligible modifications.
As we age, we depend more and more on medical care and, increasingly, older Americans want the option to age and receive care safely in their own homes. As a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic, more people use their homes as offices, as gyms, and even as sites for medical care. In fact, the use of homecare and telehealth skyrocketed during the pandemic.
“Given the option, the vast majority of seniors and people with disabilities want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. It’s more comfortable, less costly, and improves quality of life,” said Rep. Crist. “Unfortunately, many homes lack accessibility upgrades to make this a reality for seniors on fixed incomes and people with disabilities. That’s why I introduced the Home Modification for Accessibility Act – to provide tax incentives so that more Floridians have the option to live and age safely in their own home. It’s the right thing to do!”
“We have a storm coming, with the number of disabled elders expected to double in the coming years. Fewer family caregivers are available for these aging Americans and the market for long-term care insurance is not currently sufficient to address these demographic challenges,” said Rep. Suozzi. “We must do all we can to ensure New Yorkers have the option to live safely in the comfort of their home.”
Our houses are not prepared. Falls cost $50 billion a year in medical expenses. An average fall related hospital stay costs $30,000, 75% paid by Medicare and Medicaid. These costs can be reduced by 20% for those over 65 and 40% for those over 75 by home modifications.
Additional benefits come from reduced hospital admissions, long-term care, and rehabilitation stays. AARP reports that 90 percent of people ages 65+ would prefer to age at home. These modest investments, the average home modifications cost $4,400, is half the average monthly nursing home cost, which ranges from $7,500 to $9,000. It is vital to encourage this important and less costly option.
“Incentives outlined in this bill will encourage people to demand building and renovation designs that support aging in place with joy, dignity and independence,” added Tenenbaum. “Over time, these features will become the norm, benefiting individuals, families, the healthcare system and our economy.”
We need to help Crist and Suozzi get more cosponsors for the bill. Contact your Representatives and Senators TODAY.
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