The Silver Tsunami is upon us and Washington State is taking measures to protect its residents. The Silver Tsunami is the bolus of baby boomers moving into and through their retirement years. As the Boomers age through their 60s, 70s and beyond, our already strained long term care system is hurtling towards a crisis. AARP estimates that 70% of seniors will need long term care at some point during their lives and that less than 10% of seniors have any sort of long-term care insurance. Medicaid, the only nationwide public long-term care coverage, requires almost total impoverishment as an individual must have less than $2000 of liquid assets to receive benefits. The median cost of assisted living in Washington State is over $5,000 and the median cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is over $8,500. In home care is even more expensive, with the monthly cost of 24/7 care exceeding $12,000.
On May 13, 2019, Governor Inslee signed the Long-Term Care Trust Act and Washington became the first state to enact a publicly funded long-term care insurance program (other than Medicaid). Washington’s new law provides a lifetime maximum of $36,500 that can be used for things like in home care, assisted living, durable medical equipment, and even home modifications necessary for safety and accessibility. The lifetime maximum benefit is indexed to inflation and is projected to increase to more than $88,000 by 2055.
The benefit will be available starting in 2025 to individuals who have worked three of the last six years or ten years total in their lifetimes with at least five of those years being uninterrupted. 500 hours worth of work will qualify as a year. The program will be funded by a payroll tax of .058% that begins in 2022. This equates to approximately $6 for every $1000 earned. The tax is expected to generate $1 billion per year.
This legislation had bipartisan support as many considered not only the care benefits for seniors but also the relief that it will provide to the state Medicaid system whose long term care costs are expected to double to over $4 billion by 2030. This sentiment was reflected by Democratic Senator Guy Palumbo who said that the bill is “not only the morally right thing to do, but is also fiscally responsible for the state of Washington.” The prime sponsor of the bill, Democratic state Representative Laurie Jinkins also championed the bill for making sure that “we no longer require people to spend themselves into poverty before they can get long term care.” She added that she feels this bill is “something that I feel like every member of this floor and this Legislature will be able to take great pride in for the rest of their lives.”
If you have questions or concerns about long term care for yourself or a loved one, we are here to help. Don’t wait until there is a crisis, call our office now to plan for the future.
 As reported by the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey
As always, thanks for reading!
The Team at the Elder Law Offices of Meyers, Neubeck & Hulford, P.S.
Barry M. Meyers
David M. Neubeck
Sara LC Hulford
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