Opinion: Law on long-term care is a ‘safety net’?

Vancouver resident Elizabeth Hovde, of the Washington Policy Center, shares information about possible amendments to the long-term-care law.

Vancouver resident Elizabeth Hovde, of the Washington Policy Center, shares information about possible amendments to the long-term-care law

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Washington Policy Center is still hopeful for the repeal of a bad long-term-care law. For months, we’ve been making workers aware of the law and its accompanying payroll tax. Beginning in January, W2 workers in Washington state will have a payroll tax of 58 cents per $100 taken from their paychecks.

Repeal is unlikely, given the current makeup of the Legislature, but several lawmakers are talking about trying to amend the law to rid it of some of its blatantly unfair eligibility requirements next legislative session. See more about that here in a report from KING-TV’s Drew Mikkelsen and in some of our past blogs.

I’m also interested to see in that news segment that some view this new fund as a safety-net program. It’s true that the promised benefit attached to this law, after years of paying a payroll tax dedicated to the fund, will not handle most people’s long-term-care needs, as has been suggested in the state’s marketing campaign about the new program. The state’s campaign says this forced savings plan offers “peace of mind.” It does no such thing. The cost of long-term care typically exceeds the benefit of $36,500.

As for the law offering a safety net? Taxpayer safety nets should be for people in need. This fund is set up for people in need and those not in need. It is overly wide, insufficient and inappropriate. And we already have a safety net for people in need: Medicaid. This fund simply shifts more of Medicaid’s costs onto workers — of all incomes — to free up state budget dollars for other priorities of state lawmakers.

Repeal is the correct course. We might see amendments. 

Elizabeth Hovde directs Washington Policy Center’s Worker Rights and Health Care Centers and lives in Vancouver.

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Rhonda Gibson
Rhonda Gibson
10 days ago

I agree this is bad legislation. It needs to be repealed or amended drastically immediately.

George Miller
George Miller
9 days ago

This is a poorly designed approach. $100/day is half the cost of home care and assisted living and 1/3 the cost of nursing home care… so people are going to be paying $100-$200+ per day ($3000-$6000+/month) out-of-pocket. The reality is most of us will need care and since we’re not in EU where some countries take care of citizens cradle to grave while taking a large part of income for tax to pay for it. In America people don’t like taxes but the long term care risk is the same… so one way or another we pay.
Long term care insurance companies have stopped selling in WA at least until Nov… if your company doesn’t have a group plan, you’ll be on the W-2 tax plan.

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