Washington Cares Act: Will LTC Insurance Program Survive

Washington Cares Long-term care poll of voter sentimentNEWS: Voter Poll – Washington Cares Ballot Initiative: This November we will closely watch whether Washington State voters repeal the recently enacted long-term care insurance program declared Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

“Washington’s long-term care insurance program (Washington Cares) started taxing workers this July,” explains Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s director. “This November, Washington voters are being given the choice to make the program optional and early polling shows that’s very likely to happen.”

A Cascade PBS/Elway poll conducted last month found that 47 percent of respondents would vote to repeal the program (or make it optional). “Making the Washington CARES program option basically will kill the effort as it won’t be financially viable,” Slome explains. “I’d worry that only 25 percent of those polled indicated they’d keep the program.”

Slome noted that educating the undecided will be critical to the outcome. Some 28 percent of respondents were undecided on how they would vote.

“If you are a 30-year-old healthy employee earning $150,000, voting to make the program optional adds $870 back to your annual income,” states Slome. “It would be interesting to hear what motivated one-in-four polled individuals to keep the program in place. Specifically, what messaging motivated those who are being taxed for the future benefit.”

Further data on poll participants revealed that one-in-four were age 65 or older. “These individuals likely have no financial incentive to make the program optional,” Slome admits. “Likewise, they wouldn’t benefit. But it’s commonly known that seniors vote so how this block votes could be quite significant in the outcome.” Access the full poll data here.

The long-term care insurance professional noted this would not be the first time that a long-term care insurance program was approved only to be subsequently ended. “When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed and signed into law, it contained a national long-term care program called the CLASS Act,” Slome adds. “Suddenly one night, the administration closed the doors and subsequently the program was repealed.”

If long-term care specialists believe in the program’s value, they need to advocate on its behalf before election day. “Tell the organizations involved in legislative matters that you care about this program,” Slome advises. “Tell the insurance companies you work with so that they can work together with those supporting the program.”

“The outcome in Washington will likely impact other states considering long-term care initiatives,” Slome predicts. “Politicians carefully watch voter sentiment and if this can’t withstand resistance in a state with no state income tax, what will be its future in highly taxed states like California and New York?”

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) https://www.aaltci.org advocates for the importance of planning and supports insurance professionals who market both traditional and hybrid LTC solutions. Access the latest long-term care insurance statistics at https://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/learning-center/ltcfacts-2024.php.


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