Meetings, rules and deadlines push long-term care law along

By ELIZABETH HOVDE  | 
Jun 14, 2021
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An investment subcommittee working on the WA Cares Fund — the state’s new long-term care entitlement program that comes with a payroll tax on workers beginning in January — met today. The meeting offered confirmation that the 2020 ballot-box defeat of a constitutional amendment set this program up for long-term failure. The constitutional amendment would have allowed the state to invest the program’s dollars into stocks and other methods of investment. Without such investment, the fund appears doomed, despite a payroll tax of 58 cents per $100 of W-2 workers' incomes. 

Failure or not, rules for the program are coming together, as is a public relations campaign that will continue to roll out and inform people how their money will be taken and spent on administration and long-term care needs.

website already exists and includes a contact form individuals can use to ask questions, if they don’t find the answers they're looking for in limited state-provided information or in our blogs about the long-term care law. 

A hearing to go over proposed rules for the law is set for July 8. These Employment Security Department rules address assessment and collection of the payroll taxes, self-employed elective coverage, collective-bargaining agreements and appeals. They can be found here. That meeting likely will feel more like inside baseball than is helpful for learning about the fund. Webinars and presentations about WA Cares Fund, however, are on the way to help with that, I’m told. 

If you are an employer or human resources manager forced to play baseball with this long-term care law and are looking for answers about having to deduct workers' paychecks more for the state, the meeting will be conducted on a conference call at 9 a.m. July 8. The call-in number is 360-407-3780 and the following PIN code will be used: 930377#. People are also invited to provide written comments about the proposed rules by emailing rules@esd.wa.gov by 5 p.m. that day.

An opt-out date of Nov. 1 remains and allows people with their own long-term care insurance to avoid the payroll tax. A worker must attest to having purchased private long-term care insurance before Nov. 1 and then apply for an exemption, starting on October 1st.  

It’s smart to talk with a seller sooner than later to find out if opting out is best for your individual situation. The insurance industry has been changing its long-term care offerings because of the law, and we expect alternatives to the tax to become more limiting.