In September 2023, the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Commission held a meeting to vote on several recommended changes to the state’s new long-term care insurance program. Among the most controversial, the commission voted to recommend that the Legislature double the number of hours required to qualify for the benefit from 500 to 1,000 hours a year, a change Rep. Peter Abbarno says would make a bad program worse.
“Doubling the number of hours Washingtonians would have to work just to qualify for an already inadequate benefit is fundamentally unfair,” said Abbarno, R-Centralia. “This change would hurt many part-time and seasonal workers by forcing them to pay into a system they may never benefit from.”
On July 1, 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. The $36,500 benefit, including access to services and supports, will not be available to qualified, eligible individuals until July 2026.
In 2019, over the unanimous objections of House Republicans, Democrats passed House Bill 1087, establishing the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Program. Later that year, nearly 63% of Washington voters said the Legislature should repeal the payroll tax through Advisory Vote No. 20.
Abbarno listened to Washingtonians and introduced House Bill 1594 (2021) and House Bill 1011 (2022) to repeal the program and payroll tax. Despite the overwhelming public disapproval of the payroll tax, neither bill received a committee hearing.
On April 3, 2023, during floor debate on the House Democrats’ 2023-25 operating budget (Senate Bill 5187), Abbarno offered Amendment 545 that would have repealed the program and payroll tax. House Democrats voted the amendment down.
“At a time when families in Washington are struggling to afford gas, groceries, housing, and childcare – those kitchen table issues that affect most of us – the last thing we need is state government creating more economic uncertainty,” said Abbarno. “This change would make a bad program worse.”
Learn more at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/repeal-ltc