Editor’s note, May 13: Gov. Jay Inslee has signed HB 1087 into law.

Washington may become the first state to offer workers a long-term care insurance program into which they would pay to help offset assisted living and other costs.

The Long-Term Care Trust Act — HB 1087 and its companion bill in the Senate, SB 5331 — would have a maximum lifetime benefit of $36,500, indexed to inflation, according to Washingtonians for a Responsible Future. The coalition, which is advocating for the legislation, includes the Washington Health Care Association, LeadingAge Washington and several other organizations.

The bill has passed in both the state House of Representatives and the Senate, but the latter body made several changes to the measure, so the House must vote on it again.

“Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has said he is eager to sign the measure,” according to the AARP, part of the coalition.

Beginning in 2022, the benefit would be funded through a monthly payroll fee of 58 cents for every $100 in income, meaning that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay about $24 dollars a month.

All workers would contribute to the trust, but under one version of the bill, those covered by other long-term care insurance could opt out of the program when it begins. Those who are retired or not working would not pay into the system and would not be eligible for benefits. People would become eligible to receive benefits when they need help with three or more activities of daily living.

The benefit first would be payable in 2025 and could be used for “a comprehensive array of long-term care services and supports” such as assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities, in-home care by professional and family caregivers, and expenses such as meal delivery or construction of wheelchair ramps, according to state Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D), one of the bipartisan bill’s sponsors.

The bill, if signed into law, will help relieve family caregivers as well as the state’s Medicaid program, Jinkins said.

The lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500, however, currently would cover just over 7 months in an assisted living community, based on the state median in Washington cited in Genworth’s Cost of Care 2018 survey. Alternatively, the amount would cover 4.2 months for a shared room in a nursing home, 3.75 months for a private room in a nursing home, or 6.8 months of homemaker or home health aide services.