Washington on Monday became the first state in the nation to create a public insurance program to help families offset the costs of long-term care.
The Long Term Care Trust Act signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, will allow anyone who needs care up to $100 a day to provide services, ranging from personal home care aides to adult day care or nursing home care.
“I don’t think people realize this but Medicare does not cover these long-term services,” Gov. Inslee said at the signing ceremony. He called the new law “a win for all Washington workers.”
Family caregiving advocates hailed the bill’s passage as a victory and a harbinger of changes to come, with similar campaigns under way in California, Michigan and Minnesota to address long-term care.
“This is a game-changer for stemming the tide of middle-class families aging into poverty,” said Sarita Gupta, co-director of Caring Across Generations, in a statement.
These two bills are models for the rest of the nation to consider. WA state, once again, is at the head of the pack when it comes to policies that help working families and provide much-needed security when it comes to their health care. #waleghttps://t.co/gpMIpYp6Sf
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) May 14, 2019
Starting in 2025, Washington’s program promises a benefit for those who choose to pay into the program, with a lifetime maximum of $36,500 per person. The fund would be paid for by an employee payroll tax of 58 cents for every $100 earned.
The median retirement savings for people over 65 in Washington is $148,000, while the lifetime cost for those who need care averages $266,000, according to AARP of Washington.
Only a small portion of Americans have private long-term care insurance, which is costly. Qualifying for public coverage under Medicaid requires spending down lifetime savings.
Read more about the campaign in Washington from Jay Newton-Small on News for the Ages. A growing American crisis: who will care for the baby boomers?
Michael Alison Chandler is managing editor at MemoryWell. Previously, she was a staff writer at the Washington Post for 13 years.