Long-term care insurance

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*Green icons = bill is moving forward; Yellow = delayed or facing hurdles; Red = failed

Healthcare

Proposals to update Washington’s new long-term care insurance program funded by a 0.58% payroll tax. The WA Cares program passed in 2019 and was originally supposed to go into effect in January 2022, but criticism and half-a-million opt-outs have caused the governor and lawmakers to rethink their plan.

House Bill 1733 - Opt-outs for long-term care insurance

Official bill information: House Bill 1733

Description of the bill: This bill aims to establish which employees may voluntarily opt out of the WA Cares program, which was designed to pay for nursing and aging care via a 0.58% payroll tax. It names veterans, active military spouses, workers on short-term visas and employees who work in Washington but live out-of-state. Anyone who opts out would be permanently ineligible unless they follow the process to re-enroll in the program, which is also laid out in the text of the bill. The tax was initially passed in 2019 and was supposed to go into effect in January 2022 butnearly half a million people opted out, causing the governor and lawmakers implementation of the tax.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 27, 2022.

House Bill - 1732 Delaying long-term care insurance until 2023

Official bill information: House Bill 1732

Description of the bill: Delays by 18 months the implementation of a new 0.58% payroll tax that will go toward a long-term care and aging program. The tax, which lawmakers approved in 2019 as the WA Cares program, was originally supposed to go into effect in January 2022. This billpushes that start date back to July 2023. The bill additionally adds new text allowing people born before Jan. 1, 1968 to opt into the WA Cares program after paying into it for just one year (everyone else will have to wait until July 2026 before becoming eligible for benefits). Regardless of when they enroll, workers paying into WA Cares can receive up to $36,500 worth of services over the course of their lifetime. The bill’s 38 sponsors include Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Olympia, the House majority leader. 

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 27, 2022.