June 10, 2019
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Washington is pioneering a way to help seniors age in their homes

Over the next five years, Washington state will be building a first-of-its-kind long-term care insurance plan to provide help for seniors to stay at home, rather than enter costly long-term care facilities.

Kaiser Health News writes about the new plan, which is being closely watched around the nation.

Washington's new Long-Term Care Trust Act was signed into law last month. The plan will be funded by a new 0.58% employee payroll tax that goes into effect in 2022. Self-employed people can voluntarily join the new program and workers with private long-term care insurance can opt out; otherwise, all public and private employees will be assessed the new tax.

After three years for the trust fund to build up, the benefit will go into effect to fund a $36,500 lifetime benefit. It will pay for home health care as well as other services, from installing grab bars in the shower to respite care for family caregivers.

Once Washington's program goes into effect in 2025, residents can collect benefits if they've paid into the system in three of the last six years, or five consecutive years in a decade. To qualify for a benefit of up to $100 a day, adjusted for inflation, a person must show they need help with at least three activities of daily living.

Helping people stay in their homes will cut state costs for Medicaid, which helps pay for the cost of 62% of nursing home residents.

Washington's new law is expected to save Washington state $3.9 billion in Medicaid costs by 2052.

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Housing Forum
Manufacturing Solutions

A way forward on immigration

By Edmund O. Schweitzer III and Jay Timmons

Manufacturers are in the business of building solutions. When we see a need to be filled or a problem to be solved, manufacturers go to work innovating and making the products that improve our daily lives. But we don't stop there. When we see our nation facing a challenge, we don't just call on our legislators to fix it; we also provide solutions.

That's exactly what manufacturers have done to help fix our nation's broken immigration system. Earlier this year, the National Association of Manufacturers released "A Way Forward," a plan for comprehensive immigration reform that bolsters border security while strengthening the economy and providing certainty for those immigrants who are anxious about their future...

Legislation soon up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and similar bills recently introduced in the U.S. Senate would provide a solution for these two populations, and manufacturers are calling on Congress to act swiftly. While this is not a comprehensive solution, these bills are a way to move our nation one step closer to a more functional immigration system, and for that reason, they should command strong, bipartisan support. It is simply the right thing to do...

Read the full op-ed in The Spokesman-Review
Unsustainable Budget Growth

State budget growth puts Washington in tight spot during next downturn

By AWB President Kris Johnson

State government will spend more than $52.8 billion over the next two years. This is an increase of about 18.3 percent over the previous two-year budget and one of the biggest increases in the last 25 years.

It's true there are many competing demands for resources, but lawmakers had $5.6 billion more to work with, before raising taxes. Rather than look for cost savings, they chose to raise more than $1 billion in new taxes.

It's a safe bet that most Washington families and small businesses did not increase their spending by 18.3 percent this year. This pace of expansion is unsustainable. When the tax collections drop, that usually means painful budget cuts and more tax increases.

Lawmakers made progress on important issues this year, but it came at a high cost. As they work through the interim and prepare for the next budget, our hope is that lawmakers will tap the brakes and slow the growth in state spending.

Washington has enjoyed years of strong economic growth, but we need to be prepared for the next downturn.

Read the full op-ed in The Wenatchee World
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