House Republicans to push for votes on bills to repeal and replace the long-term care insurance program

The Washington State House of Representatives will debate and vote on two bills today relating to the state’s controversial long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. Facing pressure from workers, businesses and Republicans, Democrats are fast-tracking the measures through the legislative process and pushing the issue out to 2023.

The first measure, House Bill 1732, would delay implementation of the program by 18 months and move premium collections out to July 1, 2023. The second, House Bill 1733, would create four new voluntary exemptions from the program. 

House Republicans are united in their support of repeal of the program and its payroll tax. House Bill 1594, sponsored by Rep. Peter Abbarno, would repeal the program. House Bill 1913, sponsored by Rep. Drew Stokesbary, would repeal and replace it.

House Democrats have refused to give either bill a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. 

What to watch for on the House floor today at 1:30 p.m. | Watch on TVW here.

Today after caucus at the beginning of House floor action, House Republicans will run two procedural motions to the relieve the House Appropriations Committee of House Bills 1594 and 1913 and place them on the 2nd reading calendar. If the motions are accepted, they would make these Republican alternatives eligible for consideration by the House. Reps. Peter Abbarno and Drew Stokesbary will provide speeches on the motions, which House Democrats are expected to vote down.   

House Bill 1913 would repeal the long-term care insurance program and replace it with a privately managed program that would leverage the state’s existing revenue to make long-term care coverage both affordable and optional. Under the proposal, private insurance carriers would reinsure a portion of the risk they assume when they write long-term care policies and receive a full state tax credit for all reinsurance premiums paid.

Stokesbary discussed House Bill 1913 at the Legislative Republican media availability yesterday.

The program and payroll tax, now called the WA Cares Fund, were established through House Bill 1087 in the 2019 legislative session. No House Republicans voted for the legislation. In the general election later that year, nearly 63% of voters said the bill should be repealed in Advisory Vote No. 20.

Workers were allowed to opt out of the program if they secured a qualified, private long-term care insurance policy by November 1, 2021. More than 450,000 people were able to secure a private plan and exemption. However, many workers were not able to find a private plan in time or were unaware of the new state mandate altogether.

The 2022 legislative session began on January 10 and is schedule to run 60 consecutive days.

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Washington State House Republican Communications