OLYMPIA — Nearly three years ago, Washington became the first state in the nation to establish a defined benefit to help offset the costs of long-term care. Now, lawmakers are quickly moving to delay implementation amid concerns about long-term solvency of the program and criticism of the timing of the payroll tax that pays for it.
The lifetime maximum of the benefit is $36,500, with annual increases to be determined based on inflation, and the program is funded by workers, who pay a premium of 0.58 percent of total pay per paycheck.
On a 91-6 bipartisan vote, the Democratic-led House passed one measure that would delay the tax — which was supposed to start being collected by employers this month — until July 1, 2023, and would refund any premiums that were collected before that date. Collection of the benefit to pay for things like in-home care, home modifications like wheelchair ramps and rides to the doctor would be delayed from Jan. 1, 2025, until July 1, 2026.