“With his signature, Inslee pauses WA Cares program for 18 months”

With his signature, Inslee pauses WA Cares program for 18 months,” by Austin Jenkins, OPB



“Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed into law a bill that delays the start of the program until July 2023, giving lawmakers 18 months to make revisions to the program and reassess its long-term solvency. The new law, which goes into effect immediately, also provides refunds to any employees who saw their paycheck docked after the payroll tax to fund the program kicked-in on January 1. Additionally, the measure changes the eligibility requirements for WA Cares to allow people born before January 1, 1968 to qualify for partial benefits. Previously, someone nearing retirement age wouldn’t have enough working years left to become vested in the program. … The pause represents a setback for Democrats who created the first-in-the-nation, state-run long-term care insurance program in 2019. The original plan was to launch WA Cares this year with benefits starting in 2025. But Democrats came to realize the program was not ready for primetime and posed a potential political liability as some workers would be required to pay into the program without qualifying for any benefits. Lawmakers also heard from constituents upset they had not been able to take advantage of a one-time opt-out opportunity that expired last November 1. … Ultimately, according to state officials, about 470,000 workers representing about a third of the state’s overall payroll did request to be excused from the program after securing private plans. That’s nearly five-times more people than the state actuary’s baseline assumption of how many people would drop out. The full actuarial implications of those opt outs for the long-term solvency of the program is not yet clear.”


LTC Comment, Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform:

Oops. No wonder they needed a do-over. Are other states smart enough to heed this warning? Or will they too forge into the thicket of long-term care insurance complexity without the knowledge, skill or profit motive to make it work.