Throughout this fall, I’ve been traveling across the state visiting with child care providers to learn more about the challenges of offering care and opportunities to expand.
On these trips, I’ve often thought about the care for folks on the other end of the age spectrum as well – our eldest family members and neighbors. This year, the legislature took important action to ensure that our parents, grandparents, and community elders can live out their lives with appropriate and affordable care.
As the holiday season approaches, let’s make sure we take a moment to thank and appreciate those who provide important care for our families—from child care providers to long-term and home care workers.
Accessing Long-term Care
It’s no secret that most of us will need long-term care during our lives. Whether it’s help getting to a doctor’s appointment and following medication schedules or living in a nursing home – at some point, we will all need a helping hand.
Unfortunately, this care is far too expensive for most. Families are struggling to keep up with the bills that ensure their loved ones are given the care and dignity they deserve. Moreover, few people can save for the expected cost of long-term care.
I’m proud to say that in April we created a first-in-the-nation social insurance program for long-term care to help families pay for the high cost of providing care for their loved ones as they age. The Long-Term Care Trust Act is funded by a payroll deduction of 0.58% of wages, with a total lifetime benefit of almost $37,000. The benefit will be available to eligible beneficiaries in 2025 and covers a broad range of services from home modifications and home delivered meals to in-home personal care and nursing home care.
The Long-Term Care Trust act will help prepare Washington for the “age wave” that is quickly approaching and allow us to breathe a little easier knowing that we can take care of the ones we love.
Creating Tax Relief and Fairness for Senior Citizens and Veterans with Disabilities
Did you know that there is a property tax exemption program for senior citizens and veterans? Not many people do. Before this year, it wasn’t accessible to many folks especially in our area: the exemption had certain income limits that were flat across the state and not adjusted based on county. In some counties, the $40,000 income threshold was realistic, but in places like King County, the average income is much higher and the threshold did not work.
Senior citizens and veterans with disabilities often need help with their property taxes and the existing exemption was not generous or flexible enough. This year, the legislature passed a bill to change the threshold so the needs of people living in King County and places like Grant County can both be met. I was proud to vote for a bill that enables more senior citizens and veterans to receive property tax relief through this important exemption.
Fighting for Prescription Drug Cost Transparency
We all know the sting when a pharmacist rings up the bill. Up until that point, many of us might not even be able to guess what we’re going to pay for our necessary medications because the medical and insurance industries make it so challenging to understand the cost of prescription drugs.
I’m proud to have voted this year to fight for prescription drug cost transparency. House Bill 1224 requires health carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacy services administrative organizations, and drug manufacturers to report certain prescription drug pricing data to the Health Care Authority. Health plan carriers must provide data on the most prescribed and costliest drugs, as well as the 25 drugs with the largest spending increases each year. Pharmacy benefit managers must also provide data regarding discounts provided by drug manufacturers. Also, manufacturers must disclose the factors they use when setting or increasing certain drug prices.
By mandating that the medical and insurance industries regularly report, we will expose their pricing decisions and enforce transparency. We will use this data to develop strategies to reduce prescription drug costs, so everyone can get the medication they need without wondering if it’s going to break the bank.
Thanks for reading about the work I am doing in the legislature to make Washington state an even better place to live. It’s truly an honor to serve you and the 41st Legislative District. For more regular updates and news, please follow me on Facebook.
Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family.