BILL STATUS UPDATE: House Bill 1087 passed the House on Feb. 21 (see AARP Statement) on a bipartisan vote of 63-33.  It passed the Senate on April 16 on a vote of 26-22.  The bill now moves to concurrence in the House and then on to Governor Inslee’s desk for signature.

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2019

Contacts:
Jason Erskine / 206-604-7085
Cathy MacCaul / 206-218-5915

AARP Urges “Yes” Vote on HB-1087, the “Long-Term Care Trust Act”
Statewide poll shows more than 70% of Washington voters support the measure, with increasing levels of support among younger voters.

Olympia, WA – Thursday’s floor vote in the House of Representatives presents a significant opportunity for elected lawmakers to help bring peace of mind and financial security to Washingtonians when it’s needed most. AARP is urging members of the House to tackle the state’s long-term care coverage crisis head-on by voting “Yes” on the bipartisan House Bill 1087, the “Long-Term Care Trust Act,” which would help Washingtonians pay for care during a long-term illness, injury or disability.

An AARP poll of registered voters in the state found that a significant number of Washingtonians (73%) support the concept of creating a long-term care trust that would help Washingtonians pay for help with activities of daily living as they age, such as bathing, dressing and getting out of bed. The poll was conducted by AARP in August 2018.

“While Washington voters of all ages support the concept of a long-term care trust, it might surprise some to know that this support actually increases among younger voters,” says AARP Washington Advocacy Director Cathy MacCaul. According to AARP’s poll, 83% of voters age 18-34 support the concept of a long-term care trust. “Given today’s economic uncertainty, younger adults are worried about better preparing for their future financial security. Many are also helping their parents or loved ones with their long-term care needs and seeing firsthand how difficult it can be if you’re not financially prepared,” adds MacCaul.

With baby boomers soon to start turning 80, a vast population may need help with medication management, transportation and meal preparation. In fact, 70% of Washingtonians 65 and older will require some type of assistance to live independently.

Unfortunately, most Washingtonians are unprepared to meet their long-term care needs. The median retirement savings for people over 65 is just $148,000, while the lifetime cost of care averages $260,000. For many others, the need to save for their long-term care is coming as a costly surprise. Many mistakenly believe Medicare will be there at the onset of a chronic illness or injury, but Medicare covers only limited care for skilled nursing or rehabilitation, leaving most people uninsured for their long-term care needs.

The Long-Term Care Trust Act (LTCTA) would create a state long-term care program, providing Washingtonians with flexible and meaningful benefits, ensuring families can choose the care setting and services that best meet their needs. Based on a modest payroll premium of just over one half of one percent (.58%), vested and eligible workers would receive a lifetime benefit of $36,500, indexed annually to inflation.

“The program could help prevent countless middle-class families from being forced to spend down their life savings to pay for care, and would also alleviate some of the growing stress on the state’s Medicaid budget,” says Representative Laurie Jinkins (D-27), the measure’s primary legislative sponsor. “By helping people pay for care before they impoverish themselves to receive Medicaid, the Act is projected to save Washington taxpayers $19 million in the first year of operation (2022), with a net savings of nearly $4 billion by 2052.”

“Twenty years ago you could buy a long-term care insurance policy that made good economic sense. That’s no longer the case,” says HB 1087 co-sponsor, Representative Drew MacEwen (R-35). “The long-term care insurance market is broken. There isn’t a product on the market that could compete with the returns and protection Washingtonians will receive under the long-term care trust act,” he added. “This is the right thing to do.”

“AARP is especially pleased with improvements that were made to the bill during the legislative interim concerning consumer choice and the treatment of family caregivers,” says MacCaul. “Those in need deserve flexible and meaningful options so that when the time comes, they can choose the living environment or services that best meets their needs.” The LTCTA benefit focuses on consumer flexibility by providing an array of choices, including in-home care aides, adult family homes, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, and others. The benefit can also be used to pay for medical equipment like emergency alert devices, and services including, but not limited to, home modification, transportation or meal preparation.

“We are also dedicated to making sure the Long-Term Care Trust Act honors the important role family caregivers play in caring for their loved ones,” says MacCaul. “Families are the backbone of Washington’s care system, and at some point in our lives each of us will likely assist somebody we are close to who needs help with everyday activities.”

Family caregivers take on big responsibilities to care for their loved ones. On average they spend about 20-percent of their income on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving. To provide this care, many family caregivers quit or reduce time at their jobs and lose income, Social Security credits or other benefits like health insurance. After a small amount of training, the measure provides the opportunity for family caregivers to be compensated under the Act.

“Crafting a viable and robust program to help Washingtonians better prepare for their long-term care needs is critically important for our families and for our state,” says MacCaul. “AARP urges members of the House to vote yes on HB 1087, and we look forward to working this legislative session towards a solution that we can all count on.”

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Poll methodology: Data was collected via a telephone survey among 613 registered voters age 18-plus in Washington State. Both cell phone and landline numbers were randomly drawn from a registered voter list. Interviews were conducted August 14-27, 2018. The survey has a margin of sampling error of ±4 percent. Details available online.

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With more than 940,000 members in Washington State, and a nationwide presence of nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit aarp.org/wa or follow @aarpwa