Washingtonians for a Responsible Future

Strong Support for Legislature to pass bipartisan Long-Term Care Trust Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 16, 2019

STRONG SUPPORT FOR LEGISLATURE TO PASS BI-PARTISAN LONG-TERM CARE TRUST ACT:

Family caregivers, aging and disability advocates, and labor unite to support landmark policy

OLYMPIA, WA – Today the Washington state House Health and Wellness Committee held a packed public hearing on the bipartisan Long-Term Care Trust Act (HB 1087). Testimonies by AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, Adult Family Home Council of Washington State, Washington Health Care Association, Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, SEIU 775 and multiple family caregivers expressed overwhelming support for the policy and urged the legislature to act with urgency to address the ballooning financial insecurity millions of families and the state face for long-term care costs.

Seventy percent of Washingtonians aged 65 and older will require some type of assistance to continue living independently in their own home. By helping people pay for care before they impoverish themselves to receive Medicaid, the Long-Term Care Trust Act is projected to save Washington taxpayers $34 million in the first year of operation (2025), $470 million in 2052 and have a net savings of over $3.9 billion by 2052.

Without the Long-Term Care Trust Act, Washington state’s Medicaid long-term care spending is projected to grow to $4.1 billion dollars each year by 2040, with Washington taxpayers on the hook for the bill. Additionally, older adults would continue to go without vital assistance with such basic activities such as cooking, cleaning and bathing, putting an enormous additional financial and emotional burden on already stretched family caregivers.

The Long-Term Care Trust Act benefit focuses on consumer flexibility by providing an array of choices, including in-home care aides, adult family homes, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, and others. The benefit can also be used to pay for medical equipment like emergency alert devices, and services including but not limited to home modification, transportation or meal preparation.

“Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of Washington’s long-term care system,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington Advocacy Director.  “More than 828,000 residents help their aging parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be.  But that care doesn’t come without a cost.  On average family caregivers spend 20-percent of their income on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving. The Long-Term Care Trust Act supports family caregivers by providing them the opportunity to be compensated for the critical work they do.”

“Legislators have a choice – lead the nation to help families prepare financially for their long-term care costs and protect the state from ballooning Medicaid costs or continue to force people into poverty to meet their family’s care needs.” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders, and Washingtonians for a Responsible Future coalition member. “The Long-Term Care Trust Act will cover the largest uninsured risk we face as a society, long-term care costs. It’s the right choice for our state.”

“I am currently an unpaid family caregiver to my 90-year-old parents,” said family caregiver and advocate Ruth Egger, “and I’ve experienced the difficulty in supporting loved ones as their physical and mental health changes as well as the financial strain. My family, like thousands throughout Washington, would greatly benefit from a long-term care insurance program proposed in the Long-Term Care Trust Act.”

“At life’s critical moments, we all want peace of mind that our loved ones are getting the dignified care they need. By passing this historic legislation, Washington state has an opportunity to be a national leader in supporting caregiving families; elected officials in the other Washington should take note. We’re excited to see how this builds on what the state has already achieved with paid leave to get us one step closer to accessing caregiving support at every stage of life.” – Sarita Gupta, Caring Across Generations Co-Director

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Washingtonians for a Responsible Future is a coalition of AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, Adult Family Home Council of Washington State, Washington Health Care Association, Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, SEIU 775, the Senior Lobby, other advocates and numerous family caregivers.

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