Bill will help families, seniors save for long-term care

Today, 142,000 Snohomish County citizens are age 60-plus. The census projects that number will increase to 300,000 by 2030, just 14 years away. A growing number of our older community members will need long-term care, but options now are limited or unaffordable for many. Medicare or private health insurance do not cover these expenses. Many seniors exhaust their life savings for these services and many don’t have family to help. This experience creates financial and emotional damage and pain.

The aging of the boomers will challenge the current ways available to fund long term care. A better option is being considered by in Legislature.

The Long-term Care Trust Act (HB 1636), a bipartisan bill, would create a long-term care (LTC) benefit to pay for care without leaving seniors depleted of savings and assets. This bill will provide a mechanism where workers would pay 0.49 percent of their salary into a LTC trust. Seniors would have access to this benefit that would contribute to their LTC costs.

Unlike Social Security, there has not been a mechanism available like this for the wage earner worker. AARP estimates that there are 850,000 family caregivers in Washington — 11 percent of the state’s population — most of whom are stretched very thin with the demands of full-time work, meeting their employer’s needs along with the time required to care for their aging loved ones.

HB 1636 provides a mechanism for worker contributions into this fund and avoid depleting all their savings when they can no longer work. It also relieves some of the pressure on working families providing care to elderly family members. The LTC Trust Act will allow families to take care of their fragile family member without depleting their own financial resources or having to leave their jobs to care for their family member. As our senior population grows dramatically as the boomers age, this benefit can be an important strategy to share the responsibility in a way that is both compassionate and practical. Please ask your legislator to support this bill.

Steve McGraw, CEO

Senior Services of Snohomish County

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