Initiative 2124

Long-Term Care Opt-Out

Initiative Measure No. 2124 concerns state long term care insurance.
This measure would provide that employees and self-employed people must elect to keep coverage under RCW 50B.04 and could opt-out any time. It would also repeal a law governing an exemption for employees.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

BALLOT SUMMARY

This measure would amend state law establishing a state long term care insurance program to provide that employees and self-employed people must elect to keep coverage under RCW 50B.04, allow employees to opt-out of coverage under RCW 50B.04 at any time, and repeal a current law governing exemptions for employees who had purchased long term care insurance before November 1, 2021.

FIXING BAD POLICY

House Bill 1087 (2019): Created the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Program, which provides a limited lifetime benefit (up to $36,000) for future long-term care costs. The program is available to individuals who have paid into the program via a payroll tax (initially $0.58 per $100 earned) that took effect July 1, 2023. The troubled program was delayed for a year due after glitches in implementation. More than 475,000 Washingtonians who were able to opt out of the program did so during a limited opt-out period.

OUR POSITION

  • This initiative would allow Washington workers to opt-out of the WA Cares program and payroll tax and provide consumer choice when it comes to long-term care insurance.
  • House Republicans oppose the WA Cares program and payroll tax because it is:
    • Unpopular. Hundreds of thousands of Washington workers opted out of the program and payroll tax and many others wanted to opt out. In the November 2019 general election, 62.92% of Washington voters said HB 1087 (Concerning long-term services and supports) should be repealed in Advisory Vote No. 20.
    • Unfair. Our state has an affordability crisis. A new payroll tax is financially burdensome for someone living paycheck-to-paycheck. Someone could pay into the system for the duration of his or her career and never need to use the benefit. Or, someone could pay into the system for years, move to another state to retire, and never get to use the benefit.
    • Inadequate: The limited $36,500 benefit, not available until July 2026, is not adequate and may give someone a false sense of security about future long-term care needs.
    • Uncertain. There are also questions about the program’s solvency. The payroll tax may need to be increased in the future — adding to the financial burdens of Washingtonians.
  • House Republicans also support the repeal of the WA Cares program and payroll tax – HB 1011.

I-2124 AT A GLANCE

INITIATIVE FILED: June 13, 2023
SIGNATURES SUBMITTED: 427,481
SIGNATURES REQUIRED: 324,516
DATE CERTIFIED: Jan. 25, 2024
HOUSE COMMITTEE: Health Care & Wellness
SENATE COMMITTEE: Labor & Commerce
ACTION TAKEN: None

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Reps. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, and Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, provide an update after House Republicans’ unsuccessful attempt to request a public hearing on I-2124. The lawmakers vow to keep sharing the message about why this is an important initiative.

THE PROPOSED LAW

MOTION FOR HEARING

Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, makes a case why the House Health Care & Wellness Committee should hold a hearing on I-2124, arguing the hearing would allow lawmakers to receive public testimony on whether Washingtonians should be allowed to opt out of the long-term care program and payroll tax. The motion failed, with every House Democrat voting against holding a hearing. View vote count →View vote count →

DEMOCRATS’ UNPOPULAR LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM AND PAYROLL TAX

Starting July 1, 2023, most workers in Washington, including part-time and temporary workers, began paying up to $0.58 per $100 of their earnings for the WA Cares Fund — a new state-run, long-term care insurance program. Estimate your costs here.

DEMOCRATS’ UNPOPULAR LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM AND PAYROLL TAX

Starting July 1, 2023, most workers in Washington, including part-time and temporary workers, began paying up to $0.58 per $100 of their earnings for the WA Cares Fund — a new state-run, long-term care insurance program. Estimate your costs here.

Note: The ballot title, which appears in the dark gray box, and the ballot summary are supplied by the Office of the Attorney General as the official language of this initiative to the Legislature. Signatures submitted source: Secretary of State