On a recent Saturday morning in Hawaii, care workers, seniors, community members, leaders and organizers gathered together for a summit on the importance of Hawaii's game-changing proposal to expand access to long-term care to everyone in the state.
Nearly 100 people came together to share their stories of care, to learn from one another about the costs (financial and emotional) of caring for someone, and to do a Policy 101 class on the proposed legislation itself. Speakers included Senator Roz Baker, who will introduce a bill to expand access to care in the 2016 legislative session, allies from a range of groups including AARP and the Kilohana Angels (a careworker co-op), and Caring Across Generations' very own Ai-jen Poo.
The reason for all the excitement is that Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to pass a social insurance bill to provide long-term care coverage for all its residents. This groundbreaking idea shifts the notion that families should be on their own when it comes to long-term care, and offers an alternative to the current system in which many families are forced to spend down any assets they might have simply to qualify for programs that provide care.
We believe that everyone deserves to make choices about how and where to receive care, and Hawaii's proposal will be a huge step toward making sure that everyone's long-term care needs are met. Caring Across state partner Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) is leading the advocacy efforts to secure passage of this legislation.
It is a bold proposal, and represents a significant breakthrough in policy. Given that the first state policy breakthrough can radically expand the realm of what is possible, Hawaii could set the stage for a federal solution.