The nation is facing a crisis of care for our aging population. With the Baby Boomer generation aging into retirement and beyond, this crisis continues to grow. The care of aging parents or family members has placed a significant burden on families, finances, and strained government programs. The role of traditional Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) is in question, as the cost of care has resulted in increased costs for current and past policies. The COVID-19 pandemic truly shined a light on the magnitude of the crisis. As the industry expands options, innovative thinking is needed so more Americans can afford to plan for the protection they need. Finding a viable, affordable, and timely solution is imperative so that our parents, our neighbors, and our loved ones can age with dignity.
Contrary to popular misconception, Medicare does not cover the cost of custodial care, and Medicaid generally only supports low-income individuals. It is imperative that the Long-Term Care industry play a significant role in the financing of long-term care services. LTCI can ensure that significant personal care expenses that often occur with advanced age are met without burdening one’s family, depleting other financial assets, or overwhelming state budgets with unaffordable consumer expectations and misconceptions. In addition, Long-Term and Extended Care Planning (LECP) must play an enhanced role in future discussions on the growing cost of care as American's age. The NAIFA Limited and Extended Care Planning Center is the ideal vehicle to formulate and discuss important issues.
Now is the time for the industry, regulators, and lawmakers to come together with advisors and agents to craft innovative and creative solutions that protect aging Americans and promote market choices. COVID-19 has moved state regulators and lawmakers to action. They have begun addressing obstacles to obtaining LTCI policies. It is critical that the industry's voice is heard and included in the solutions.
Washington state recently launched the WA Cares Fund which establishes a new tax on employees to fund the first public-operated LTCI program. It is important to understand the short- and longer-term effects that such a program may have in providing adequate support for care needs. We hold firmly that an all-public option would not best serve those in need. It is highly likely more states will consider a similar model, so it is imperative they do so with a strong, clear, and unified message from us.
NAIFA plans to fully engage on state and regulatory issues. This includes working with the NAIC Long-Term Care Insurance Model Update Subgroup that is currently reviewing the compatibility of the existing Long-Term Care models (#640) and (#641) with the current LTCI marketplace. To assist this effort, NAIFA has established a State LTC Legislative Working Group to collect and formalize input from members who specialize in this field of insurance, as well as outside issue experts. Collective thinking and discussions on current product availability, innovation, and policy challenges are invaluable to NAIFA’s advocacy efforts.
Members of the Working Group meet via Zoom conference calls monthly to discuss new and ongoing state and regulatory proposals across the country. The group is led by a Chair and a Vice-Chair who will serve for a one-year term. The Chair and Vice-Chair positions must be filled by a NAIFA member and these individuals must have significant interest in the issue and be respected subject matter experts. The seats will be selected by a full committee nomination process.
The Working Group’s tasks are to explore and recommend policy positions for NAIFA to pursue through its government affairs capabilities. NAIFA engages directly with state lawmakers and regulators and plays a significant role in shaping policy and serving as a resource of information. Any formal policy recommendation must be approved by both the NAIFA Government Relations Committee as well as the NAIFA Board of Trustees.
Executive Director NAIFA Limited and Extended Care Center
Bianca Alonso Weiss
NAIFA State Government Relations Manager