Washingtonians for a Responsible Future

A new way to pay for the single biggest expense in retirement

Older Americans increasingly opt for ‘continuing care at home’ plans or join programs that foster community support

By Morey Stettner

May 27, 2019

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Washington State Has Created the Nation’s First Social-Insurance Program for Long-Term Care

Washington State Has Created the Nation’s First Social-Insurance Program for Long-Term Care

When Americans age or need help with the basic tasks of living, they often have no one to turn to but their family members. A groundbreaking program in Washington will change that for residents of the state.

About three years ago, Ruth Egger’s father got up to go to the bathroom in the night. When he tried to get back into bed, he fell, breaking his hip. The painful recovery, during which he used a walker, sent him into a depression. “Since then, he’s gone downhill,” Egger said. He suffers from memory loss, had gallbladder surgery, and now needs help dressing, showering, and even taking medication…

Egger’s parents, both in their early 90s, are fortunate enough to be able to afford to live in an assisted-living facility in Issaquah, Washington. But their rent is climbing while their income stays fixed, forcing them to draw from their savings. That has made them unwilling to pay for the extra services available at their facility that could really make a difference for them, including help with chores and assistance for Egger’s father with his daily tasks. Without another adult present, Egger’s mother is afraid to leave her husband to go to the pool or exercise classes in case he falls again. “My mother suffers because she has to do everything,” Egger said. “I would feel so much happier if they had somebody at least once a week come in so [she] would feel like she could leave and go to the doctor or do what she needs to do and not worry about him…. It would give her some relief.” But, she adds, “They are just so frightened of not having enough money.”

 

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Guest Editorial: Long-term care bill will help the coming ‘Gray Tsunami’

Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board

April 3, 2019

The following editorial originally appeared in The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash.

Despite incontrovertible evidence that there’s no escaping it, growing old is a force that most Americans tend to live in denial of. A clear sign of this willful blindness is that roughly 90 percent of adults are financially unprepared for the long-term care they’ll probably need someday.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 70 percent of people over age 65 will need long-term support at some point, whether at home or in a care facility. Combine that with the “Gray Tsunami” of Baby Boomers making landfall, the Trump administration continuing to threaten Medicaid cuts and the destabilization of the private long-term care insurance market over the last two decades.

That’s a recipe for disaster as our country ages not so gracefully.

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Letter to the Editor: Seniors, others need state Long Term Care Act

LETTER: Seniors, others need state Long Term Care Act

Monday, March 25, 2019 1:30am

My beloved wife of 56 years is slipping away, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

Millions across our nation are suffering the same tragic loss.

Thank God for our family and other caregivers who have come to our assistance. We are not bearing the burden alone.

Yet all the expenses have been paid from our own fixed retirement income.

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Letter to the Editor: Support long-term care act

Support long-term care act

Fri., March 22, 2019

The Long-Term Care Trust Act (HB 1087) has passed in the state House and is now moving through the Senate. I urge you to support this bill. Why? Because this will develop a public long-term care insurance that people will be able to use to care for their spouse, partner or family member if they should need care. This will prevent the family from using all their savings to pay for the care and also save the state money as families will not have to use state-paid Medicaid as soon.

I live with my partner who lives with Parkinson’s disease. Right now he is capable of caring for himself, but we worry about the future. What if he needs help and I am not capable of providing all of it? We have some savings, but the cost of care is frightening.

I urge the state senators, especially Sen. Andy Billig, to pass this bill so that families like mine will not need to struggle to afford the care we need. We need a solution to long-term care costs that will bring peace of mind and financial security to us and other families in Washington.

Andrew Whitver

Spokane

Is Washington State About To Okay Public Long-Term Care Insurance?

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GETTY

Washington State may soon approve the nation’s first publicly-funded long-term care insurance program. The measure, called the Long-Term Care Trust Act, would provide a maximum benefit of $36,500 for people who need assistance with at least three activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, toileting, transferring, dressing, or eating. It would be funded with a payroll tax (or what supporters call a premium) of 0.58 percent of wages starting in 2022. The money would go into a trust fund so it could not be spent on other programs.

State residents would be eligible for benefits if they have worked at least part-time over “the past 10 years without interruption of five or more consecutive years,” or worked three out of the past six years. The state would begin paying benefits in 2025.

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Long-Term Care Trust Act clears another hurdle

Long-Term Care Trust Act clears another hurdle

The House passed the Long-Term Care Trust Act off the floor Thursday in a 63-33 vote. If the bill makes it through the Senate and into law, Washington workers would pay into a trust and, eventually, become eligible to receive benefits if they have difficulty completing tasks of daily life.

Under the bill, Washingtonians who work at least 10 percent of full-time would be required to pay 0.58 percent of their wages into the trust program starting in 2022 — self-employed people could opt in.

Supporters of the bill refer to the 0.58 percent as a “premium” while those in opposition sometimes refer to it as a “tax.”

Workers who pay in for either three years within the last six, or for a total of 10 years including five uninterrupted years, would become “qualified individuals.”

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A Growing American Crisis: Who Will Care for the Baby Boomers?

Jasmin Merdan—Getty Images
FEBRUARY 15, 2019
Newton-Small, a TIME contributor, is the CEO of MemoryWell and author of Broad Influence

Every day since her husband broke his hip, Beatrice Egger has been afraid. The 91-year-old retired teacher worries when William, 90, a retired principal, is in the shower. She worries when she is helping him get dressed and he unsteadily towers over her. And she worries when he moves from sitting to standing or from room to room. When he falls, which inevitably happens, she can call upon aides at their Issaquah, Wash., retirement home to help get him back up. But they can’t help her all the time. So she stays scared.

If they could afford it, Beatrice and William would hire a home care aide to help during the day. That would give Beatrice a safety net, a pair of younger stronger arms to steady William. They know they’re lucky that their pensions afforded them life in a retirement community, food and some level of care. But they live in fear that William’s next fall will prove fatal and, without his pension, Beatrice might not be able to afford her community; after a lifetime of middle-class jobs, she might be forced into Medicaid.

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Presentation planned on long-term care bill

Presentation planned on long-term care bill

Friday, February 8, 2019 9:33pm

A Whidbey Island group is offering a presentation on a bill regarding long-term care, according to the Whidbey Island’s Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action committee.

House Bill 1087, the Long Term Care Trust Act, would make history, according to a press release.

The bill would establish a public long-term care trust fund through a monthly payroll fee of just over one half of one percent – 58 cents for every hundred dollars in income.

The legislation provides eligible recipients $100 a day for 365 days to help meet the cost of long-term care.

Advocates, working with a bi-partisan group of legislative co-sponsors, are helping to create a Social Security-type system for long-term care.

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The state and its citizens both need lawmakers to pass the Long-Term Care Trust Act

The state and its citizens both need lawmakers to pass the Long-Term Care Trust Act

Jerry Reilly
Jerry Reilly COURTESY OF JERRY REILLY

The Legislature has an opportunity to lead the nation by passing the bi-partisan Long-Term Care Trust Act to secure affordable long-term care for Washingtonians. This is an opportunity that we must not miss. The financial security of our state budget and Washington’s families are at stake.

Aging comes with many challenges. The cost of long-term care is an often-unanticipated challenge many families face. Most people do not understand that Medicare does not cover long-term care costs, and 95 percent of adults are uncovered by costly private insurance. Read More

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