WA Cares is the existing and mandatory long-term-care program in the state of Washington. The meeting of the Long-Term Issues and Supports Trust Commission was a busy one where much was discussed. This included solvency predictions, numerous commission recommendations, and a new actuarial report. With that being said, let’s discuss the situation surrounding WA Cares as it exists right now.
What is the Plan for WA Cares?
First, the WA Cares program will be funded by money from workers of every income level. The state will do this in order to attempt to decrease its Medicaid budget and compensate family caregivers using taxpayer money. However, the impact of doing so might not be universally positive.
Some caregivers and Washington residents could benefit financially from this approach. Others might not fare so well. All workers will have at least 58 cents, if not more, of every $100 they earn diverted to funding WA Cares.
These workers could have used this money for other purposes or simply saved it for future needs. It is also possible that the safety net WA Cares will create could benefit more than just those in need. Despite this, it is difficult to accurately predict the future impact of this program.
Is WA Cares Solvent or Not?
As you might expect, this question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer. Under some scenarios, the WA Cares fund could remain solvent until June of 2098 at the current tax rate of .58%. In other scenarios, the WA Cares fund will not remain solvent until this date. To put it as simply as possible, the solvency of WA Cares is a gray area, but overall, it seems unlikely that the program’s $36,500 lifetime benefit will be sufficient for the long-term care needs of Washington workers.
What Changes Could Be Made to WA Cares?
One change that could be made to the program is portability. In other words, if this change was made, Washington workers who are younger than 67 years old and who have paid in for at least a year could get the lifetime benefit. People who are over the retirement age would not have to continue paying into the program.
Another recommendation is to let people who opted out of WA Cares get their opt-out rescinded. Portability and the possible requirement for recertification are two reasons why some might opt out of WA Cares. Some of these changes are more likely than others, but it is important to keep them in mind regardless.
What is the Future for WA Cares?
The future of the WA Cares program is uncertain. The state of Washington might amend the law, even more, to try to improve the program. The commission will adopt a final recommendations report at its meeting on December 9th and the Legislature will consider these recommendations in the coming session. Stay tuned for future updates on the WA Cares situation and how it will impact Washington workers.