State Rep. says WA Cares tax needs some ‘common sense, immediate fixes’

Nov 18, 2021, 7:44 AM
WA Cares...
In this April 1, 2021, file photo, May Nast arrives for dinner at an independent senior housing facility. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Supporters of the WA Cares long-term health care initiative held a press conference Wednesday to explain where the law stands now that there is a class action lawsuit filed against it.

Inslee says he doesn’t have ‘authority’ to cancel long-term care tax

Legislators, as well as health care workers, had impassioned comments about why the long-term insurance plan is so important.

“It’s not surprising to us, given the deep pockets of the opposition, that they’re launching a legal attack as part of their strategy, to ultimately make long-term care less affordable and less accessible to Washington seniors and people with disabilities,” said Maddie Foutch with SEIU 775.

Critics of WA Cares argue it should be paused before a new tax is put on workers wages. They also point out that there are a lot of problems with the initiative, including the fact that a large number of people who have to pay into the payroll tax will retire before they can receive any benefits.

“At the end of the day, what good is long-term care through private insurance, if towards the end of your life when you’re on social security, and you can’t afford the payments, and your policy is canceled? You’ve spent all that money for nothing,” said Linda Wright, a family caregiver.

“We know that corporate long-term care insurance is not the solution it has made itself out to be, but actually part of the problem,” added Jessica Gomez with SEIU. “Our coalition has reviewed over 800 consumer complaints filed with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.”

Rep. Nicole Macri admits the legislature will need to make some fixes to the plan.

“The legislature needs to act quickly as we reconvene in January to implement several common sense, immediate fixes, and combat the misinformation that is being spread about this program,” Macri said.

Private long-term care insurance all but impossible to get ahead of new state tax

The tax, which starts in January, will collect 0.58% of people’s income to go toward long-term care benefits. A person who has paid into the tax for 10 years can collect up to $36,500 in benefits if they are still living in Washington state. That means anyone in Washington who works at least 12.5 hours a week will see $5.80 taken out of their paycheck for every $1,000 they earn.

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State Rep. says WA Cares tax needs some ‘common sense, immediate fixes’