OLYMPIA, WA (April 17, 2019) — On Tuesday evening, caregiving, aging, labor and disability rights advocates in the state of Washington celebrated a huge milestone on the path toward providing peace of mind to caregiving families and the people they care for. The Long Term Care Trust Act, which would establish the nation’s first statewide social insurance program for long-term care and most comprehensive plan to date, passed through the state Senate with bipartisan support by a 26-22 majority, and will soon be headed to Governor Inslee’s desk.
If signed into law, all working people in Washington state would contribute just a little bit over the course of their working years to gain critical relief from expensive bills right at the moment they need the most support. Anyone who needs assistance with multiple activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or eating, could access support for services up to $100 a day (capped at a total of $36,500, adjusted to inflation), as long as they’ve paid into the trust.
Designed to flexibly meet a broad range of care needs as people get older, as well as vital supports for people with disabilities to remain independent, families would get to choose how to apply the benefit – from in-home care to nursing home care, as well as less intensive but still critical services and supports such as respite care, installing a wheelchair ramp in one’s home, or getting rides to the doctor.
Says Sarita Gupta, Co-Director of Caring Across Generations, “This marks a real tipping point for care. Not only does this legislation show the power that a strong coalition centering the people closest to the issues has to make big change, but it also shows that we, as a nation, can no longer wait for a solution. Older adults, family caregivers, care workers, and people with disabilities in communities across the country are organizing to demand a collective solution to fulfill our collective responsibility to care for one another.”
To fund the program, workers will pay 58 cents into the program for every $100 they earn and become eligible to receive benefits after three years of paying in (and will fully vest in 10 years). The program is estimated to save taxpayers $3.9 billion total in Medicaid costs by 2052. As a result, fewer family caregivers are also expected to leave the workforce and jeopardize their own financial security in order to provide care.
Building on the work that went into passing one of the nation’s most comprehensive paid leave bills, this legislation shows that Washington is well on its way to building a more holistic care infrastructure to support the growing needs of an aging population. In Washington state alone, the need for long-term services and supports is expected to double by the year 2040.
Caring Across Generations is a proud member of Washingtonians for a Responsible Future, one of thirteen field partners Caring Across Generations is now working with in 11 states to ensure all of us can live and age with dignity.