The flurry of announcements out of Olympia in advance of the WA Cares Fund implementation have done nothing to fix the inherent problems of the program, but have created a snowstorm of questions and confusion. Here's our take.
Governor Inslee’s office has been pushing out press releases and statements with regards to the WA Cares Fund over the last two weeks. Unfortunately, the Governor and legislative representative statements only served to muddy the LTC waters. Just when agents thought it was safe to celebrate the holidays in peace, the phones started ringing and emails clogged their servers with employers and employees wanting to know what to make of the mixed messages.
A TIMELINE OF THE STATEMENTS
Those who know me know that I don’t hold back the sarcasm, especially when it is completely warranted. Here’s my take on the messaging coming out of Olympia with regards to the WA Cares Fund taxation.
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW
Unfortunately, all of these statements have caused a great amount of confusion with agents, employers, and employees. Here is a rundown of what you really need to know:
MY HUMBLE OPINION
I am boggled as to why the original press statement was even released in the first place. It was totally unnecessary. Nothing changed. Except it seems that more constituents are now upset.
ESD was already slated to collect Q1 premiums for the WA Cares Fund in April under the current law. If the legislature pushed off the date, then any collected tax in January, February, and March could easily have been paid back to employees by their employers.
Anyone following the Long-term Services & Supports Commission knows that they are providing the legislature with recommendations to tweak the WA Cares Fund program. There was no need to restate this.
Most importantly, nothing under the current law can be altered until the legislature actually votes to pass a change and the Governor signs it into law. This was finally outlined in the Governor’s statement on the 23rd.
One of the most frustrating things for me is to watch the state continually work within a vacuum with regards to long-term care – both in regard to the development/changes to the law itself and the garbled last-minute communications these past two weeks. The LTSS Commission has rebuffed suggestions and input from agents, brokers, and insurance companies (yours truly included) from the beginning. Heaven forbid, when crafting the law, they gather insight from those who have been working in the long-term care space for decades.
To add insult to injury, with these latest statements, it was quite evident that the communications went out without any regard for the practical realities the statements implied or how the news would be construed by an increasingly frustrated public. We in the industry are left to pick up the pieces and answer the mostly unanswerable questions that these proclamations wrought.
In my humble opinion, the original press release was a “feel good” for the Governor and the Democratic Caucus. A perfunctory “we hear you” moment in response to public outcry about the flawed tax’s impending start. Too bad these statements coming out of Olympia are tone deaf and for nearly everyone working in the state, the outcome is still tied up in legislative knots.
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I love numbers. I'm a math geek. I read benefits industry articles and periodicals for relaxation (but, honestly, I'm still a fun gal). I also like to share what I've learned and you'll find it all here.