When Long-term service and trust committee support Meet this week to discuss the various amendments to the state of Washington Long Term Care Actwas a good reminder that the law should be repealed, not “fixed,” as lawmakers have suggested it can do.
Subcommittees are working hard to come up with legislative recommendations that would make the law better for some, but still unfair for most. The law lowers workers’ wages, nullifies choice and penalizes labor. Solvency concerns also remain, and letters of the law erroneously discourage private plans for long-term care.
Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:
Portability options are discussed. A subcommittee is trying to find a way to allow people who pay into the WA Cares Fund, the program established by law, to get a benefit if they move out of state. Currently, any interest earned at the state line disappears.
The director of WA Cares, Ben Veghte, said it is possible to provide transportation in the ways the subcommittee proposes. This is the first time I’m hearing that.
Will the nest good portability? It will treat people who pay better, but it will be expensive and may exacerbate solvency concerns. It would remove one of the obstacles that was put in place to prevent people from the benefits that the program falsely promises. Then again, the options under consideration introduce new equity concerns. One option only allows people who move before paying payroll tax for 10 years to continue paying taxes.
The advantage of this option, says Vegti, is that “not everyone will choose to keep their benefits by continuing to pay. So you’ll have fewer people getting full benefits once they leave the state.”
Another option that would provide significantly reduced benefits to people who paid and then moved out of state. However, this option is likely to have unattractive administrative costs, Vegti explained. watch the Meeting To learn more about portability options in mind.
Re-certification of those who have already been exempted
The LTC Recertification and Exemption Working Group advises that those exempted are required to re-certify because they have private long-term care insurance. Re-certification will not be required more than once a year and no less than every three years. It will start in December 2024. The working group also wants to give people who initially chose to withdraw from WA Cares the option to return. This could improve the solvency of the program, says a member of the working group.
Senator Curtis King, Republican of Yakima, is rightly concerned that the rehabilitation order is rewriting the law and treating these exempt residents poorly. He also believed that if you were to change the law, it should change to allow others, who can find better private options, to be exempt from WA Cares.
Senator Karen Kaiser, D-Des Moines, has expressed concern about the idea that people who have already been exempted will be allowed to rejoin. Currently, these people have been told that there is no re-entry into WA Cares.
Health criteria for eligibility have been discussed and should be a red flag for all those who hope to benefit from the social program someday. You may get interest, if you invest enough years that pay 58 cents on every $100 of earnings and if you need the care shown. The health standards associated with private long-term care insurance are more generous.
Then, long-term care law proponents expressed concern that the program for late-life care is going too far and wide. It would also serve as a disability program of some sort. The law states that WA Cares are available to anyone who has (meaning has paid payroll tax for sufficient years) and needs assistance with three or more activities of daily living. A person can be young or old, and other state programs can be available to them.
Supplemental insurance that wraps around WA Cares was discussed, and the panel rightly shares insurance providers and their knowledge in the discussion. For most people who need long-term care, $36,500 will not be enough, making a seamless product for special LTCI desirable. People who deplete WA Cares benefits and their own savings, of course, will turn to Medicaid, an outcome WA Cares was created to try to prevent.
The bright spot at Tuesday’s meeting was the discussion about changing the vesting requirement from 10 years “without a gap of five consecutive years or more” to just 10 years over your career. I’ve been writing about this provision problem in law for a year. The requirement of “no gap for five consecutive years or more” imposes particular hardship on those who choose to spend time away from formal work to raise a family or care for elderly relatives – some of the people who are meant to be of assistance. Solvency watchers said the change would be minimal.
repeal the law
The committee has had to do a lot of work, and it is doing it. Instead of spending all his time on potential legislative “reforms,” I wish he would recommend that the state repeal the law and get out of the long-term care insurance business.
Read my full policy brief to learn more.
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