WISH Act Would Provide Long-Term Care Insurance

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3) has introduced the Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISHActH.R. 4289, in the House of Representatives to create a catastrophic long-term care insurance program.

The WISH Act calls for the creation of a public-private relationship to provide long-term care coverage for older adults. On the public side, the federal government would collect a new payroll tax of 0.3 percent of wages from both employer and employee, or a combined 0.6 percent from the self-employed. On the private side, it is expected that private insurance companies would be unburdened of providing catastrophic levels of coverage and would create more affordable long-term care coverage options.

Eligible beneficiaries would need to either suffer from dementia or require assistance with at least two activities of daily living. Beneficiaries would also be required to have worked and contributed for 40 quarters to a new Long-Term Care Insurance Trust Fund. Upon meeting these requirements, and subject to the applicable waiting period, beneficiaries would be eligible to receive up to approximately $3,600 per month, enough to cover approximately six hours of daily care. The waiting period ranges between one and five years; those with a lower income qualify after one year. The waiting period increases at higher income levels.

Upon announcing introduction of the WISH Act, Congressman Suozzi cited several reasons his legislation is needed,  including:

  • a projected near-doubling of retirees that will be seriously disabled over the next 15 years,
  • most retirees without the means to pay for long-term care, and
  • expensive institutional care as the likely result for those without the means to cover long-term care expenses.

“We have a storm coming, with the number of disabled elders expected to double in the coming years,” said Rep. Suozzi. “Fewer family caregivers are available for these aging Americans and the market for long-term care insurance is not currently sufficient to address these demographic challenges. The WISH Act would save the Medicaid program and millions of Americans from financial ruin, would allow people to age at home with dignity, and would create millions of good-paying, middle class jobs in the home health care industry.”

NAHC has not yet taken a position on this legislation, but we do support the establishment of a long-term care program that expands access to services without requiring beneficiaries to be poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. NAHC look forward to working with Congressman Suozzi as his proposal develops.

Stay tuned to Private Duty Source for updates on this legislation.