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WA Bill Would Expand State's Long-Term Care Fund Eligibility


Thursday, March 25, 2021   

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A measure in the Washington Legislature would expand the state's innovative model for affordable long-term care.

The Long-term Care Trust Act, passed in 2019, creates a trust fund for Washingtonians through a payroll premium that collects 58 cents for every 100 dollars earned; the first of its kind in the nation.

House Bill 1323 would ensure people with disabilities have access to the program and allow tribal communities in the state to opt in. The bill currently is in the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care.

Vicki Lowe, executive director of the American Indian Health Commission praised the effort.

"The values that tribes and indigenous people have for taking care of their elders and trying to keep them home as much as they can really align with this type of coverage, so they were very interested in it," Lowe stated.

The bill also clarifies how people can opt out, such as if they have an existing long-term care policy. The lifetime cap for benefits is $36,500 dollars.

The insurance industry has argued against the program, saying it could provide better coverage for less money.

Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director for AARP Washington, countered people have struggled to afford this type of care because of the lack of answers from the insurance industry.

"It was the insurance industry that got us into the crisis that we had for long-term care in this state and nationwide, and what drove us to create a solution through the Long-Term Care Trust Act," MacCaul argued.

MacCaul added the Long-term Care Trust Act will bring affordable insurance to all Washington workers.

"We hope that that gives people a peace of mind because people want to have some say as to how they age and the care that they receive," MacCaul emphasized. "And having this benefit available to them as they age will bring [a] great deal of comfort in future years."

The program will launch in 2022.

Disclosure: AARP Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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