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Capitol Correspondence - 06.03.19

Washington State Creates First LTSS Social Insurance

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ANCOR is sharing this article by The Nation because disability supports such as those provided by our members fall under the long-term supports and services (LTSS) umbrella, and the developments discussed in the article set interesting precedent in this field. There are similarities between the Washington state model and the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Plan which was established by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 but later rescinded due to funding challenges. 

As shared by The Nation:

“A policy about to become law in Washington State, the first of its kind, would offer relief to people in Egger’s parents’ position—and to her as well. The Long Term Care Trust Act, which passed the state legislature at the end of April and will be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on Monday, establishes the country’s first social-insurance program to pay for long-term care. All residents will pay 58 cents on every $100 of income into the state’s trust. After state residents have paid into the fund for ten years—three if they experience a catastrophic disabling event—they’ll be able to tap $100 a day up to a lifetime cap of $36,500 when they need help with daily activities such as eating, bathing, or dressing.

The money can be spent in a variety of ways. It could cover a home health aide to provide periodic support and care. But it could also be used to install an accessible shower in someone’s home or a ramp so they can get in and out of their front door more easily. It could cover transportation costs to and from medical appointments or to have food delivered to someone who is homebound.

[…]

But the long-term-care fund won’t bring relief only to the elderly. A younger person who suffers an unexpected injury or illness could similarly hire someone to help him in his home. Those with disabilities, and the family members who support them, can help cover some of their more episodic needs, particularly for individuals whose needs aren’t severe enough to require living in a facility. ‘It expands options for people who are in need of care, aging adults, or people with disabilities,’ said Sarita Gupta, co-director of Caring Across Generations, which advocated for the legislation.

The payroll premium will collect about $1 billion each year for the dedicated trust fund. ‘This structure will only help support the work that we’ve done here in Washington to help professionalize caregivers,’ noted Sterling Harders, president of SEIU 775, which represents home health workers. While her members had already secured a $15 minimum wage, affordable health insurance, and a retirement benefit in Washington, across the country their peers mostly earn less than that and have little access to benefits. The Long Term Care Trust Act will ‘help ensure that the caregivers who are providing this care are skilled, that they are trained, that they are certified, that they are paid fairly for the work that they’re doing,’ said Harders.

[…]

The amount state residents are eligible for isn’t huge, given that it’s capped at $36,500. If a person needs a few hours of in-home care each week, that means a year or two of coverage. The sum won’t cover a full-time nursing home, which can cost $10,000 a month; a person who needs that will still need to turn to Medicaid for financial help. But the cap will rise automatically every year as inflation rises.”