Olympia, WA (STL.News) Gov. Jay Inslee, together with Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, released the following statements this morning on delaying the Washington Cares Fund premium assessment:
“I have been in ongoing discussions with legislators about the long-term care bill, which is set to begin collecting funds in January. This bill will help provide much-needed care and coverage for Washingtonians as they age. However, legislators have identified some areas that need adjustments and I agree. We need to give legislators the opportunity to make refinements to the bill. Therefore, I am taking measures within my authority and ordering the state Employment Security Department not to collect the premiums from this program from employers before they come due in April. My actions mean that the state will not collect those funds until the Legislature sorts through these issues. While legislation is under consideration to pause the withholding of LTC fees, employers will not be subject to penalties and interest for not withholding fees from employees’ wages during this transition.” – Gov. Jay Inslee
“The Legislature passed the Long-Term Services and Supports Act, now known as the Washington Cares Fund, in 2019 to ensure the people of Washington have a convenient, cost-effective long-term care option they can rely on without bankrupting them or denying them coverage for pre-existing conditions. The legislature has the opportunity to delay the Cares Fund premium assessment this year in order to make improvements to the Fund during the 2022 legislative session and we fully intend to do so. Pausing the program so that it can better serve disabled veterans, military spouses, non-residents, and near retirees will improve the program. A pause will also give the Long Term Care Commission the ability to study and make recommendations about residents who move out of Washington to retire and assure that those who have opted out of the program maintain their private insurance policies. These improvements will provide security and stability now and into the future for this critical safety net for our state’s seniors and people with disabilities.
“Delaying implementation of the Washington Cares Fund premium assessment through the 2023 legislative session allows the Legislature time to pass the policy reforms that are ready to go now and to consider further recommendations from the Long Term Care Commission.
“In addition to delaying the premium assessment, we also support employers pausing premium collections from employees in Washington so lawmakers can take necessary action. While we cannot direct employers not to collect, we strongly encourage them to pause on collecting premiums from employees, giving us time to pass legislation extending implementation dates until next year. We know that this extra time will allow us to find solutions and craft updates to the Fund that allows Washingtonians to age with dignity in their own homes.” – Sen. Andy Billig and Speaker Laurie Jinkins.