In 2019, the Democratic majority approved House Bill 1087, which created a mandatory long-term care (LTC) program funded by a 0.58% payroll tax. The benefits from this program are negligible to the employee relative to how much they’ll be paying, especially for younger workers. In fact, Washington ranks as one of the highest for LTC costs in the nation. The state-mandated program has a lifetime benefit of $36,500 and can only be used if an enrollee stays in Washington.
From October 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022, individuals can apply for an exemption through the Employment Security Department by attesting that they have long-term care insurance purchased before November 1, 2021, in the private market.
The original law passed in 2019 did not have a deadline for opting out. In 2020, SSB 6267 was passed, which created more requirements around the opt-out period, including limiting the time in which people with private long-term care insurance could opt-out of the program to a 15-month opt-out period. However, the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Commission, in its January 2021 report to the Legislature, recommended limiting opt-out to those who had private long-term care insurance prior to the enactment of the Trust (2019). That position was supported by legislative Democrats in HB 1323 that was introduced in the 2021 session by Rep. Tharinger. During the House committee process the opt-out period was extended by which individuals could be exempted to July 24, 2021. In the Senate, SRC members fought the time frame proposed in the House and were able to extend the purchase date to November 1, 2021.
Why we don’t support the Long-Term Care Act:
- Drives up the cost of private long-term care policies in Washington
- Only provides a maximum lifetime benefit of $36,500, payable at a maximum of $100 per day while care currently averages up to more than three times that
- If someone can’t afford to make up the difference between the benefit and the cost of their care, the benefit is useless
- While the benefit will increase over time, there’s no indication it will match the rate of inflation
- Not portable — if you move out of Washington, you receive none of the benefit even if you’ve paid the tax for decades
- No future opt-out periods are provided for those under the age of 18 or those moving into the state — they will have to participate
- No opt-out provision for Washington’s home-of-record military members who are currently serving elsewhere but come back to Washington after leaving the service
- The cost per employee
- The Employment Security Department is unable to process the forms by Dec 31, 2021 and taxes will be taken out by those whose forms are sitting at ESD waiting to be processed
- Taxes those living in border states who work in Washington but does not give them access to the benefit
What our members are saying…
Bipartisan group of state lawmakers ask Gov. Inslee to pause long-term care insurance tax (MyNorthwest) Sept. 24, 2021
featuring 23 state senators
featuring Sen. Brad Hawkins
by Sen. Curtis King
Watch: Senate Republican Caucus members speak against the Long-Term Care Act (HB 1087) during floor debate.
Contact your insurance company to find out if the product you’ve bought or want to buy complies with Washington law. You must purchase a private long-term care insurance policy from a company approved by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) or the Insurance Interstate Product Regulation Commission (IIPRC).
Learn more about the Long-term Care Act: