PNS Daily Newscast - February 28 2020 

Coronavirus updates from coast to coast; and safety-net programs face deep cuts by Trump administration.

2020Talks - February 28, 2020 

Tomorrow are the South Carolina primaries, and former VP Joe Biden leads in the poll, followed by winner of the first three contests, Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Tom Steyer. Some Republican South Carolinians may vote for Sanders because they want closed primaries.

Supporters Push for Long-Term Care Savings Bill

Katharine Wismer (r.) is worried she might not have the savings available for long-term care. (Courtesy of Katharine Wismer)
Katharine Wismer (r.) is worried she might not have the savings available for long-term care. (Courtesy of Katharine Wismer)
February 4, 2019

NOTE: An earlier version of this story said advocates were in Olympia. Their meeting in the capital was canceled due to road conditions.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washingtonians are urging lawmakers to pass legislation designed to help folks save for their care when they need it.

AARP and other organizations want legislators to support the Long-Term Care Trust Act.

The bill would fund long-term services through a payroll fee of just over half of 1 percent, with lifetime benefits capped at $36,500.

Katharine Wismer is taking care of her mother while working part-time at Issaquah Senior Center. She says her mother has financial resources but she doesn't have the same luxury and finds herself in a tough position.

"I'm going to find a full-time job – at 60 – and try to find something that has more benefits, and then maybe put Mom into assisted living because she has resources for her and now I need to be thinking about me," she states.

The median savings for people over 65 is less than $150,000, while the lifetime cost for care averages about $260,000, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report form 2015.

The Long-Term Care Trust Act has passed through health committees in the House and Senate and is scheduled to be heard by the House Appropriations Committee Monday.

Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director for AARP Washington, says expensive long-term care costs are becoming an unwelcome surprise for many Washingtonians who are struggling to sock away money.

She says the partial government shutdown last month illustrates this point, with people relying on food banks to get by.

"They have not saved for their immediate needs, they're very unlikely to have been saving and are saving now for retirement or for their long-term care needs,” she points out. “And so the Long-Term Care Trust Act is about helping people pay for that care now."

The State Legislature estimates this bill could save taxpayers $19 million in 2022, its first year of operation.

MacCaul notes it's designed to be flexible as well, with savings available to help family caregivers get time off or even pay for modifications to homes so folks can get around more easily.

"The whole concept of the Long-Term Care Trust Act is about enabling individuals and giving them the resources they need to age with purpose and dignity – most likely in their home, where they want to be," she stresses.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA