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WA Weighs Its Options for Funding Senior Services

A new analysis shows long-term care for Washington's aging population could cost $6.3 billion by 2030. (Pixabay)
A new analysis shows long-term care for Washington's aging population could cost $6.3 billion by 2030. (Pixabay)
June 20, 2016

Olympia, WA - A report released today (Monday) outlines some of the roadblocks Washington state faces for funding long-term care for its growing number of older residents. It coincides with a rally at the state Capitol, where speakers will discuss options for funding senior services in the future. Comments from Jerry Reilly, chair of the Elder Care Alliance.

Advocates for older Washingtonians rally on the state Capitol steps today (Monday) to celebrate the release of a report that outlines the funding challenges senior services face as the state's population ages. The new analysis from Washingtonians for a Responsible Future shows long-term care services such as Medicaid and Medicare could cost the state six-point-three billion dollars by 2030. Jerry Reilly of the Elder Care Alliance says the current model isn't sustainable for funding senior services in the future.

"Current Social Security and current Medicaid and Medicare are hugely important, but they haven't had to deal with the stress of this large, growing population that will need long-term care services."

He says one of the report's most troubling findings is the average person 65 or older needs about 260-thousand dollars for long-term care - while seniors' median savings is just 148-thousand dollars. Family members often cover the cost gap by providing uncompensated care for loved ones.

The state has contracted the actuarial firm Milliman to analyze two options for future funding of long-term services and care. One is opening a public trust that workers would pay into through a payroll deduction. The other is a public-private option, in which the state works with private insurers to ensure more affordable care. Reilly says Milliman's report will give the state a baseline for starting a new chapter in funding long-term care.

"We're well ahead of many states in dealing with this issue, but now it's time for the next phase, which is how we begin to build resources so that people have them when they need them."

Milliman will release its analysis to the state legislature in December.

Advocates for older Washingtonians rally on the state Capitol steps today (Monday) to celebrate the release of a report that outlines the funding challenges senior services face as the state's population ages. Eric Tegethoff (TEG-it-off) has more.

148-thousand dollars.

Reach Reilly at 360-561-4212. The rally starts today (Mon., June 20) around noon.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA