128,000 Use New York’s Paid Family Leave in 2018; 26,000 Care for Parents, Spouse

New York State’s Paid Family Leave program has released its first annual report for 2018, its first year of operation. The report indicates that 128,000 persons used the program in 2018. 89,000 used it to care for a newborn. Another 39,000 used paid leave for “family care,” caring for an ill member of the family. Of those 16,000 were using the program to care for a parent and 9900 to care for a spouse. 600 used the program to care for a grandparent. The remainder of those in the family care category were caring for children.

Those caring for newborns used an average of 33 days of paid leave, while those caring for a sick family member used an average of 21 days. The ages of those using the program for family care hovered around 1000 for age groups from 35-60 with the highest being about 1100 persons at age 56 using the program. Of those caring for a sick family member, 27,400 were women and 10,900 were men. 17,600 used the program for continuous care of a sick relative while over 16,000 used the program periodically during the year.

The program began on January 1, 2018 and is having its maximum benefits phased in through January 1, 2021. In 2018, the workers in the first year of the program were able to take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50% of their average weekly wage. This year the maximum is ten weeks of leave at 55% of their average pay up to the statewide average weekly wage. By 2021, when fully phased in, the program will offer up to 12 weeks of paid leave at 67% of a workers average weekly waged capped at 67% of the stateside average weekly wage. Over 8 million New Yorkers are eligible for the program.

To read the full report from the state go to http://www.paidfamilyleave.ny.gov and click on the report on the home page.

Movement Growing for Long Term Care Benefit in States; Washington State Enacts Program

The movement to add a long term care benefit in the states is picking up momentum after the state of Washington enacted such a program that was signed by Governor Jay Inslee in May.  The program is financed by a 58/100 percent payroll tax into a state fund that will take about $300 annually from employees paychecks.  Those deductions are mandatory starting in 2022 for all workers except some who work part-time on a limited basis.  After ten years, a person would be eligible for a $100 daily allowance to pay for a number of services including home modifications, reimbursement for family caregivers, stays in assisted living and in home help.  The benefit would begin in 2025 after just three years for those with catastrophic health needs.   Most persons will be eligible if they need help with three “activities of daily living.”

The benefit is not intended to meet all the long term care needs of seriously ill persons. It would help persons with short term care that may be needed or to delay the eventual need for more extensive care or placement in a nursing home.

The program allows benefits up to a lifetime total of $36,000 that will be indexed for inflation.  The fund will collect about $1 billion per year and will save $34 million annually in health costs when started, according to one estimate.

There are 14 million middle income seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid or cannot afford provide long term care insurance.  It has been pointed out that the Washington program helps caregivers.  Washington has a $15 minimum wage so Sterling Harders, a union leader in health care noted that the new program will “help ensure that the caregivers who are providing this care are skilled, that they are trained, that they are certified, that they are paid fairly for the work they’re doing.

Michigan, Illinois and California are three other states that are seriously considering similar long term care programs.  Some of the Democratic presidential candidates want to enact long term care benefits at the federal level or include them in a Medicare for All plan. Also, Medicare is now allowing Medicare Advantage plans to include some community services including meals and transportation to be included in their plans.