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Bills would make WA LTC insurance program benefits portable to other states

Senior man putting coins, money into a piggy bank. Saving Money after retirement, preparing for retirement. Financial education and financial literacy for seniors.
Senior man putting coins, money into a piggy bank. Saving Money after retirement, preparing for retirement. Financial education and financial literacy for seniors.
(Credit: Halfpoint Images / Getty Images)

Workers in Washington state soon may be able to bring their state long-term care benefit with them if they move out of the state. 

A proposed bill, HB 2467, would allow eligible retirees to access the $36,500 lifetime benefit of the state’s long-term care insurance program implemented by the WA Cares Act even if they move out of the state. The program would apply a 0.58% tax on workers’ paychecks.

Those who qualify for the program could begin accessing the benefit in July 2026. Funds would be able to be used to offset long-term care expenses. 

The bill also would allow eligible beneficiaries who move out of state to participate in the program if they continue paying into it. In that case, someone would have to pay into the program for at least three years and would have to notify the Washington State Employment Security Department within a year of leaving the state.

The bill was passed by the state legislature and awaits the signature of Gov. Jay Insleee (D).

A similar bill, SB 6072, also would provide portability of benefits, as well as create a private, supplemental long-term care insurance option to cover people once their benefits are exhausted. 

Supporters said the bill would give 3 million Washingtonians access to assistance with their long-term care needs. Opponents said that the supplemental insurance regulation is unnecessary because insurers could write supplemental coverage in a simpler manner.

An action heading to the ballot in November, Initiative 2124, would change the program to require people to opt into it, as well as allowing anyone to opt out at any time. 

A coalition of public health and consumer advocate organizations that includes AARP Washington, the Washington state chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Washington Health Care Association have said that if the initiative passes, then workers no longer would have access to an “affordable guaranteed benefit” to help pay for home care, home modifications and other long-term care supports if they need them.

Republicans in the state discussed introducing an opt-out bill last summer. Thirteen other states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah — are considering or have introduced plans to tax those who do not have long-term care insurance. California created a task force to recommend options.

Source: McKnights Seniorliving

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