Senate panel calls on Martha Stewart

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Martha Stewart will provide her personal experience and celebrity status when a Senate committee reviews on Wednesday how the government should expand and train its long-term care work force.

Research and technical expertise will be provided by the Institute of Medicine, which provides independent guidance to the nation on health and science matters.

Stewart, the homemaking expert turned business tycoon, will warn that the nation is on the cusp of a caregiving crisis as 78 million baby boomers begin turning 65 in the coming years.

Last year, she started the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The center promotes access to medical care and offers support to caregivers needing referrals or education. Stewart's mother, Martha Kostyra, passed away shortly after the dedication ceremony. She was 93.

Stewart, now 66, says that caring for an aging parent or loved one can be another full-time job and that nearly half of all baby boomers have taken time off from work to help care for an aging parent. Many dip into their own savings to cover the expense of caregiving.

When exploring potential witnesses, an aide on the Senate Aging Committee recalled a show where Stewart talked about caregiving with former President Clinton.

"We were lucky. She was excited and eager when we got in touch with her," said Ashley Glacel, a spokeswoman for the committee. "That doesn't always happen."

The appearance will be Stewart's first before Congress. In 2002, the House Energy and Commerce Committee spared her from testifying about her sales of a biotech stock, but lawmakers asked federal prosecutors to investigate. In 2004, Stewart was convicted in federal court of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements related to a personal sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. She got a five-month prison sentence. She also served an additional five months and three weeks of home confinement.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of Sinai.) )

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