Washington Long-Term Care Act

February 7, 2022

UPDATE:  Governor Inslee Signs Amendments to WA Cares

You may have heard, the state passed, and Governor Inslee signed, updated regulations for the WA Cares LTC program 

Here is what the changes include: 

HB 1732

  • This bill delays the WA Cares tax until 7/1/2023. Any benefit payment under the program is also delayed, to 7/1/2026.
  • This bill also allows those nearing retirement to receive partial benefits, even if not fully vested (10% of the maximum benefit for each year paid in).
  • And it authorizes employers to refund any collected tax in the first quarter of 2022 back to their employees (you must refund within 120 days).

HB 1733

It expands those eligible to opt out of the WA Cares program.

  • This bill expands those eligible to opt out of the WA Cares program.
  • This will allow certain disabled veterans as well as spouses of active-duty military to apply to opt out.
  • Plus, those who reside outside Washington and those holding a temporary work visa will be able to opt out. 

The Washington state legislature passed the Long-Term Care Trust Act and Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed it into law, creating the “Washington Cares Fund.” The purpose of the new law, fund, and worker-funded tax is to help ensure the state’s aging population will have access to long-term care (LTC) services like lengthy hospital stays, assisted living, rehab facilities, and skilled nursing care if and when they need such services in the future.

If the idea of paying an additional, mandatory 0.58%, employee-funded payroll tax ($5.80 for every $1,000 of earnings) doesn’t sound appealing, there is good news. The WA Cares Fund includes provisions allowing workers to opt-out. To do so, you will need to purchase your own individual long-term care insurance policy no later than Oct. 31, 2021. That policy can be a standalone long-term care policy, or a life insurance policy or annuity with a long-term care rider. Regardless of its form, a private policy must provide for equal or better benefits than those available through the WA Cares Fund.

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