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Initiative could change Washington's controversial long-term care fund

If passed, I-1436 would make Washington's controversial long-term care program optional.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Backers of an initiative to change the state’s new long-term care fund, called the WA Cares Fund, said they are not having trouble getting signatures.

”Just say we're trying to make the long-term care tax optional. That's all you have to say is that one sentence and they go, ‘Where do I sign?'” said Cary Condotta, co-founder of Reform Washington, the organization behind I-1436.

Starting January 1, 2022, the state will start automatically deducting .58% of someone’s gross earnings to establish that individual’s fund.

The savings, up to $36,500, can be used for in-home or in-facility long-term care.

Under the law, passed in 2019, if someone moves out of the state, they cannot take their funds with them.

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Exemptions can be applied for, but only if someone has a long-term insurance plan in effect as of Nov. 1, 2021.

According to the state’s Employment Security Department, 279,465 individuals have applied for exemptions. So far, 33.7% have been processed, with 93,039 of those individuals granted exemptions. More than 1,000 of the applications of those hoping to opt-out of the fund are considered incomplete.

Under Condotta’s initiative, participation would be optional.

“You shouldn't be forced into a program that you'll never use,” said Condotta.

If enough signatures are turned in by the end of the year for the initiative to reach the Legislature, lawmakers would have three options: make the program optional, send the issue to the voters next November, or offer an alternative to the initiative to voters.

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