“Barbara Marumoto Image”

The CarePlus proposal still alive in the state Legislature is giving Hawaii residents false hope and leading them to believe the state government will take care of them in their final years of life.

In reality, the proposed long-term care program provides only one year of partial coverage ($70 per day), after those vested have been taxed throughout their lifetime as much as $276 a year, and possibly more.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation in Hawaii with many people needing long-term care, Republicans in the House and Senate say the state should consider a voluntary contribution program rather than enacting a mandatory one. And the state should encourage the people of Hawaii to purchase long-term care insurance.

However, many Democrat politicians are touting this program as the answer to seniors’ prayers, and are accusing opponents of not caring about the elderly.

We do care about the elderly. That is why we are opposed to this measure and looking for a more viable option.

Under the Democrats’ proposed plan, senior citizens now would not benefit because they have to be vested for 10 years before taking any money out of the system.

And if senior citizens, many who have a limited income, hold a part-time job to make ends meet, they still have to pay into the program.

Those from low-income families and younger adults will suffer the most. That is because under the current proposal, a wealthy person would pay the same amount of tax for the program as a person who lives in poverty.

I believe this flat tax is extremely regressive. A single mother on welfare will pay the same as a millionaire. Meanwhile, young people just out of high school will pay this tax for years and years.

Will the assessments continue to rise? Will the Legislature scoop out the money from the long term care funds to use in the general fund as they are trying to do with the hurricane relief fund and other funds?

House Republicans believe encouraging residents to take out long term care plans with private companies that specialize in that area would be more beneficial for the state and the taxpayer.

One of those House Republicans, Rep. Mark Moses, R-Kapolei, describes his opposition to the proposed program best when he questions the government’s expertise in long-term care.

He and other Republicans say Hawaii government ranks number one in the nation (State Rankings 2002) in collecting the most money from its residents in personal income taxes and we have one failed program after another.

“We should leave long-term care to the experts in the private industry and reward our citizens who take out long-term care programs with tax credits. Hawaii does not need a failed government bureaucracy to handle another important program,” Rep. Moses says.

”’Barbara Marumoto is a Republican state Representative from the Kaimuki and Kahala districts.”’

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