• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.

America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors

By 2035, seniors are projected to outnumber children in the U.S. population.

Maybe then we’ll look back and credit Washington state activists for being on the forefront of tackling America’s elder care crisis. On May 13, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a social insurance program for long-term care benefits.

“This is a huge victory for organizing and people power, for care and caregiving, and for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Josephine Kalipeni of Caring Across Generations, one of more than 20 groups that formed Washingtonians for a Responsible Future to push the path-breaking legislation.

Nationally, our long-term care financing system is broken. Medicare doesn’t currently cover home care or nursing facility care, while Medicaid coverage varies widely by state. To qualify, you have to meet poverty criteria, which requires people to spend down nearly all of their savings before getting coverage.

So what do people do?

For the richest 1 percent, there’s a growing market for luxury care communities. Vi Living, for example, has 10 facilities across the country that feature 24-hour valets, gourmet meals, indoor pools, and other amenities. At their Palo Alto development in California, entrance fees run as high as $6.5 million.

Most families obviously can’t afford that. Even typical out of pocket costs for professional home care, which run about $46,000 per year, are often out of reach. Many people who need care end up relying on family members, primarily women.

In fact, an estimated 60 percent of unpaid caregivers in the United States are women, and they pay much higher economic costs for taking on this role than men. More than a quarter of women caregivers who work are forced to shift to less demanding positions, or else give up their jobs entirely.

Even with support from family and friends, the lack of a strong long-term care system leaves many elderly and disabled Americans suffering a severely reduced quality of life. One survey found that nearly 60 percent of seniors with seriously compromised mobility weren’t able to get out of their house. Another 25 percent said they often remained in bed, while 20 percent went without getting dressed.

The new Washington state program will use a paycheck deduction of 58 cents out of every $100 in income to pay for care in people’s homes or nursing facilities, as well as other services like wheelchair ramps and rides to the doctor. Starting in 2025, eligible participants will receive up to $100 per day, with a lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500.

Caring Across Generations, a national campaign co-chaired by Jobs With Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, had already notched a long-term care victory in Hawaii.

While not an insurance trust like the Washington state model, the Kapuna Caregivers program, launched in 2017, provides subsidies of $70 per day for people who are both taking care of family members and working outside the home at least 30 hours a week. The funds can be used for services for the elderly, including professional home care.

At the national level, Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All plan. It includes long-term care coverage and provisions for assistance with daily activities, such as eating, bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping, whether provided by nursing homes, professional home care workers, or a family caregiver.

Now Caring Across Generations aims to help build campaigns in more states for Washington-style insurance programs, as a way to help build momentum for federal reforms like these. As Kalipeni put it, “One state down, 49 to go!”

More articles by:

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?