Earlier this year, it appeared that something quite rare was about to occur. One of the fifty U.S. states, Washington State, was striving to pass a bill that would have instituted a new payroll tax to help cover the cost of long term care, whether in a nursing home, a residence, or elsewhere in a community.
As reported by the New York Times, eligible adults were to receive one hundred dollars a day from the revenue raised by the tax for up to three hundred and sixty-five days. While that is not typically enough to pay the complete cost of nursing home care, it is potentially helpful in keeping less affluent older people from rapidly obliterating their savings and ending up on Medicaid. Medicaid, of course, is a large and rapidly growing source of expenditure for many states.
But alas it was not meant to be. None other than the American Association of Retired Persons came out against the legislation citing a variety of unanswered questions. As reported by the Times, many of the questions revolved around who would qualify as a caregiver and who would be eligible to receive the one hundred dollars per day. Answers to these questions are extremely complex.
Still, the issue of long-term care is a major issue that must be addressed. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in three people who live until at least the age of 65 will reside in a nursing home at some point. Once they settle in, most will be short on money. Medicaid covers at least part of the bill for sixty-two percent of people who reside in a nursing home.
For WYPR and my esteemed producer Bob White, I’m Anirban Basu.