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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

WA Caregivers Lend Support to Long-Term Care Trust Act

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Monday, April 12, 2021   

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state caregivers are boosting a bill that closes some loopholes in the Long-Term Care Trust Act as it nears the governor's desk.

Passed in 2019, the program created a trust fund for Washingtonians through a payroll premium that collects 58 cents for every $100 earned.

It was the first of its kind in the nation, but lawmakers want to tweak the program before it goes live.

Victoria Kahn, a family care provider and member of Service Employees International Union 775, said the program helps support her and her colleagues, such as helping to fund accessibility features like ramps.

"It's something that us as caregivers have been working really hard for because we know long-term care is very vital for our nation, for everyone," Kahn asserted.

House Bill 1323 opens the program up to more people, including Washingtonians under 18 with disabilities, and clarifies how people can opt out.

It has passed the House and is in the Senate Rules Committee, but the Long-Term Care Trust Act has faced opposition, especially from the insurance industry, which said it can provide these benefits better than the state can.

Critics also argue it takes away employees' choices on how to plan for their future.

Kahn pushed back on criticism, saying the program is focused on benefitting caregivers and their clients.

"We always worry about, 'Is my client taken care of? Is there some way of me being able to do this safer for my client and for myself?'" Kahn explained.

The lifetime cap for benefits under the Long-Term Care Trust Act is $36,500. The program will launch in 2022.

Disclosure: SEIU 775 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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