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Long-term care tax break proposed

ST. PAUL - Minnesotans would be more likely to save for long-term care needs if those savings carried a tax advantage, two lawmakers say.

Reps. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, and Laura Brod, R-New Prague, are introducing legislation that gives long-term care savings accounts a state tax deduction. It would be similar to college savings accounts.

"Today's demographic and fiscal realities demand that we go beyond the status quo," Thissen said. "This legislation is designed to reward individuals and families for planning ahead while giving them greater personal control in accessing the services they desire to live as fully and independently as possible. We should not force families to spend themselves into poverty to get the aging services they need."

Brod said Minnesotans need to take personal responsibility for their care when they age.

"This is not a silver bullet to the long term care funding challenge, but this proposal is one of the steps we need to take to change people's mindset that we have about our own responsibility for the long term care needs of our family members and will better balance personal and public spending for services such as long-term care," Brod said.

Watchdog rewards

The state would get extra federal money by passing a bill protecting people who turn in companies defrauding the government under a new bill.

Also, the watchdog himself would get a financial benefit, a percent of the recovered money.

Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said in this time of a budget deficit, every dollar that can be recovered should be sought.

Attorney Brian Wojtalewicz of Appleton, who also has an Alexandria office, said there are about 200 federal cases nationwide dealing with the government being defrauded. He said Minnesota probably is defrauded out of millions of dollars.

The watchdog bill is designed to influence private company employees who know their firm is committing fraud to turn in their employers.