Long term care policy update: Washington Ballot Initiative Moves Forward, New York Legislation Introduced

Washington Cares Program likely to face test at the ballot box Washington officials recently certified Ballot Initiative 2124, which would allow workers to opt out of the WA Cares long term care payroll tax. The question is likely to be presented to voters this November, unless the Legislature intervenes.

The Legislature may adopt the question and enact it into law, present a competing related measure to voters or simply allow the Initiative to be voted on in November. If the Initiative is affirmed by Washington voters, it would in effect make the WA Cares program voluntary which some believe would put the viability of the entire program at risk.

As a reminder, The WA Cares payroll tax took effect in July 2023, amounting to 0.58% contribution from Washington workers. Benefits do not go live until 2026 under current law. Government Affairs is monitoring developments and will provide updates as the November election draws near.

New York Long Term Care Trust Act reintroduced

This week, legislation that would create a state long term care insurance program in New York was reintroduced. The NY LTC Trust Act was previously introduced in 2021 and did not advance. The proposed legislation would require mandatory contributions from employees to fund long term care benefits.

As introduced, there is an exemption for individuals maintaining private long term care insurance, however, coverage must be in place by January 1 of the year in which the law is enacted. For example, if enacted in 2024, coverage would have needed to be in place by January 1, 2024. Under the current proposal, the program would become effective two years from enactment. Details around the types of products that may qualify for an exemption remain unclear at this early stage.

Currently, the bill has been referred to the Senate Health Committee, and there is no hearing or any other associated activity scheduled. There is no accompanying Assembly bill or sponsor as of February 2, 2024. New York is currently focused on its budget process and we expect that to continue through March. The legislative session is set to end in early June.

Government Affairs, in partnership with our state trade association in New York, are closely monitoring any developments. At this time, there is no indication if this proposal will move forward. It would be premature to suggest that the proposal is in any way final or that there is a need to prepare for compliance at this time.