Despite widespread concern with Washington’s new long-term care insurance law, few prospects for quick solution.

Washington’s new long-term care program has well-documented problems. We’ve written about the Washington Research Council’s recent analysis of the legislation, the calls on the governor from state senators to suspend the tax, and the coalition of business, labor, and local governments that identified specific problems with the law that need to be addressed before its workable. 

Now it appears that, while more legislators are aware of the flaws, there’s no agreement on what steps to take to fix them. The Seattle Times reports on the program’s ambitious goals and new tax.

Starting in January, the program imposes a 0.58% payroll deduction on workers in Washington. For someone making $50,000 a year, that’s $290 per year. Beginning in 2025, beneficiaries could start claiming up to $36,500 to help them pay for home care.

Then notes,

But the fledgling program is off to a rocky start.

Among the problems the ST identifies,

The only way for working residents to not be included in the program is to take advantage of a one-time opt-out offered this year. To qualify, those people must apply with the Employment Security Department and have purchased a long-term private insurance plan by Monday. On Oct. 1, the first day for residents to apply, the opt-out website crashed.

By that point, private insurance companies were already pulling their long-term care policies over concerns that people would purchase them — and then perhaps quickly drop them — to avoid the payroll tax.

WA Cares has also encountered increasing resistance over who receives a benefit.

Critics — and even some supporters of the program — point to people who will pay into WA Cares but never earn a benefit, such as older people right now who won’t have time to get vested under the current law’s timeline.

Others point to workers who could pay in for decades and never receive a dime if they leave Washington to retire elsewhere. A similar problem exists for people who work in Washington but live in Oregon or Idaho, or military families rotating in and out of the region.

Read the story for more information. There’s interest, if not urgency, among legislative supporters for making some changes. There’s also this:

Conservative activists have begun collecting signatures for an initiative that, if it qualified, could deal a hefty blow to the program.

Proposed Initiative 1436, if approved by the Legislature, or later, by voters, would allow state residents to opt-out from the program at any time.

“We’re working hard to get it qualified,” said Cary Condotta, co-founder of the group Restore Washington. “We think this is the way to get in front of the Legislature and say, ‘Hey, either fix it or scrap it.’”

“It’s not that it’s a horrible idea, it’s just executed poorly,” added Condotta, a former longtime Republican state lawmaker from Wenatchee.

Although the governor was urged to use his emergency powers, he believes he lacks the authority, according to MyNorthwest.

There have previously been calls for the governor to delay the Jan. 1 start date of the new tax, or even to make it optional, but Inslee said Thursday that he does not have the authority to do so.

“I really don’t have authority unilaterally to do it,” he said. “And I have not heard serious efforts from legislative leaderships that they want to do that.”

He adds,

Inslee does think, however, that there will be changes next year. He said he thinks there are some things that “deserve a look” to see if they can be improved.

“I do believe there are some things that are going to be on the plate for the legislation in January to make some amendments,” Gov. Inslee said. “I’m open to a few of those ideas, and I think they’re going to get serious consideration.”

We’ll be watching the issue in the coming months.