Only fix for problematic long-term care tax is repeal, says Braun

OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun introduced Senate Bill 5965, which would repeal the wildly unpopular long-term care trust program referred to as “Washington Cares.” It would also repeal the taxes employees are required to pay through payroll deductions.

More than 400,000 people applied for exemptions to the plan – a number that would have been far greater had the application deadline been extended and private insurance carriers not pulled their long-term care products out of Washington. Their decision to stop selling such plans was driven by the concern that the payroll tax would cause people to purchase and hold policies just long enough to obtain an exemption, then cancel.

Democrats passed two bills earlier this legislative session to delay the long-term care tax by 18 months and to provide for certain exemptions to the program, claiming they needed time to fix the many glaring flaws Republicans have been highlighting since the program was proposed and later passed in 2019. Braun says the people would be better served by repealing “Washington Cares” instead of delaying it.

“If a long-term care program managed by the state and funded by taxpayers is something a majority of the people want, then legislators should go back to the drawing board and work to create a bipartisan solution. This needs to be done right,” says Braun. “Let’s work toward something that doesn’t work against the military community, people who live in bordering states but work in Washington, or those who pay into the program but never see a dime because they moved out of state. It needs to be something we can all support.

“If the Legislature does create a new long-term care program, I hope it’s properly vetted. If Democrats had done so in the first place, there wouldn’t be any need to fix it. This is what you get under the hubris of one-party rule. The plan is expensive, the benefit is insufficient and the tax is unpopular. Given how the state has mismanaged this program, starting fresh and involving more legislators from both sides of the aisle would be a better path forward.”