Opinion: Recertification might be on the way for Washingtonians with exemptions from state’s long-term-care payroll tax

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center offers the latest information for those who have received exemptions.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center offers the latest information for those who have received exemptions

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

People who received exemptions from the WA Cares Fund and the payroll tax set up to fund it might be required to recertify that they still have private long-term-care insurance (LTCI) in order to keep their exemption status. This is despite the long-term-care law outlining that only a one-time attestation was required. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

The change will likely be a recommendation given to lawmakers for action in the next legislative session. And if it is made, it will be trouble for some people who dropped their private LTCI policies when the Legislature delayed the long-term-care law and payroll tax in January.

The possible new requirement was part of the discussion in today’s meeting of the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Commission. The group was set up to guide the WA Cares Fund and a coming payroll tax of 58 cents per $100 that will be taken out of W2 workers’ paychecks starting in July 2023. 

Also discussed was commission exploration into ways that the WA Cares Fund could become a portable benefit. That way, people who have paid into WA Cares for 10 or more years but end up moving out of Washington state and needing long-term care could still get some sort of benefit. Right now, only people who live in Washington state are eligible for a WA Cares benefit if they pay in enough years and qualify for long-term care.

Much of today’s meeting focused on the creation of WA Cares-linked and -branded supplemental long-term care policies sold in the private market, as there is valid concern that the state benefit for long-term care in WA Cares is not enough for most people’s long-term-care needs. I’m unsure, however, that people who have been repeatedly told by the state that they should have peace of mind about their long-term-care needs now that a state social program has been imposed on them will be eager to buy an additional product, even if they have means to do so. 

In its Sept. 13 meeting, the LTSS commission will hear more updates about possible recommendations. The public is welcome to attend and can provide comments.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center.

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