Officials still seeking
long-term care route

State policy-makers and others have been struggling for years with long-term care to deal with Hawaii's rapidly aging population.

"Obviously, the need hasn't gone away," said House Health Committee Chairman Dennis Arakaki (D, Alewa Heights-Kalihi). "We need to keep the issue alive, and we need to continue to look for solutions."

According to the state Executive Office on Aging, by 2020 one in four Hawaii residents will be at least 60 years old.

Lawmakers thought they had a solution last year, when they sent to Gov. Linda Lingle a proposal for establishing a state long-term care program funded through a graduated monthly payroll deduction on most Hawaii workers starting at $10 and growing to $23 by 2012. It included a provision granting tax credits for those who purchase private long-term care insurance policies.

While Lingle supported the tax credit, she vetoed the proposal because of the payroll deduction plan, saying she did not want to raise taxes and that the federal government was looking at solutions.

Arakaki said his committee will again look at a proposal that would include a tax or payroll deduction to fund a state system. Although a formula has not been worked out yet, Arakaki said it likely would be a graduated tax and based on a person's age, rather than a flat $10 tax.

He acknowledged that any proposal including a tax is likely to be vetoed again.

"If this isn't it, then maybe we need to ask the administration what they would like to propose," he said.

In her State of the State speech, Lingle suggested state tax credits for families and individuals who purchase long-term care insurance.

Her administration is also requesting more than $3 million in state and federal funds for home- and community-based nursing care.


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