A bill expected to be introduced in the Hawaii Legislature this year would offer universal long-term care to the state’s senior citizens.

If passed, it would make Hawaii “the first state in the union to do so,” as The American Prospect reports, making us a potential national model.

The report explains:

“Slated for introduction in the 2016 legislative session, Hawaii’s innovative bill could become a national model for states looking for ways to help families afford the high costs of elder care. Across the country, as millions of baby boomers hit retirement age, they are beginning to feel the strain of paying for health care. A full 10,000 Americans have turned 65 every single day since 2011, and will continue to do so until 2030 — a trend that is dramatically altering the demographic landscape of the United States.”

State Sen. Roz Baker listens at a hearing during the 2014 legislative session.
State Sen. Roz Baker listens at a hearing during the 2014 legislative session. PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Those trends have been “particularly marked” in Hawaii, says American Prospect: “While the number of seniors aged 75 and older increased by 47 percent nationally between 1990 and 2012, Hawaii saw a 116 percent increase in that age cohort during this same period.”

The bill will be introduced by state Sen. Roz Baker of Maui, a Democrat who chairs the Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health committee. Other backers of the legislation are a national group called Caring Across Generations and Faith Action for Community Equity in Hawaii.

Here’s how it works: Every person who files a Hawaii state income tax for 10 years would be eligible to receive $70 a day for a year. It would be paid for by “a slight increase” in the state’s general excise tax.

“We think the timing is right, even though it’s an election year,” Baker told the magazine. “We’re going to work to help people understand exactly what the funding mechanism is, how small a tax burden it is, and just how it will help lots and lots of people afford the care they need.”

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