Hawaii makes waves with proposal for nation's first universal LTC insurance program

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A bill slated for introduction to the Hawaii legislature could create the first universal long-term care insurance program in the country.

The proposed measure, set to be introduced early in the 2016 legislative session, would give beneficiaries $70 per day for a year to cover long-term care costs.

Any permanent Hawaii residents would be eligible for coverage, with benefits available after a 30-day waiting period or someone requiring assistance with at least two activities of daily living, or suffering from severe cognitive impairment.

The bill will be introduced by the state Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health committee chair Rosalyn Baker (D). Baker has introduced long-term care insurance bills previously, but none came to fruition due to concerns about costs and a reluctance to raise taxes.

The benefits would be funded through a 0.5% surtax on the state's 4% General Excise Tax. Due to Hawaii's tourism-based economy, officials estimate that tourists would finance close to one-third of the program's costs, according to Forbes.