Washington state’s first-of-a-kind long-term care program has been put on hold while lawmakers figure out a host of problems, including who must pay into the program and who is eligible to collect benefits.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed two bills on Thursday that delay collection of the WA Cares payroll tax until July 2023, and expand the number of people who qualify for permanent exemptions from the program. This would include the 150,000 people who work in Washington but live in a neighboring state, as well as some military families.

“We do have to get this right, because this is so important to so many people, Inslee said at a news conference.

Payroll deductions were set to start on January 1, 2022, but employers were advised to wait for the legislature to act. If an employer already collected premiums in January, that money will be returned to the employees within 120 days.

When employers start collecting those premiums in 2023, workers in Washington will pay 0.58 percent of their wages into the WA Cares Fund. For someone who makes $75,000 a year, that would mean an annual payroll deduction of about $435, according to the state’s estimate.

Workers who wanted to permanently opt out of the program were required to purchase long-term care insurance. Approximately 450,000 residents are now making payments on those long-term care insurance policies they purchased to get that exemption, according to The Seattle Times.

WA Cares provides a maximum lifetime benefit of $36,000 to taxpayers who contribute to the fund for 10 years and have qualifying long-term care needs such as in-home care, delivered meals, home renovations, help for family caregivers, or nursing home care.

More Info: Gov. Inslee signs bills to delay, expand exemptions in WA Cares long-term care program


Contributing editor Herb Weisbaum (“The ConsumerMan”) is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster and one of America's top consumer experts. He is also the consumer reporter for NW Newsradio in Seattle. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at ConsumerMan.com.