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Inside Olympia – WA Cares Fund

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This July, after a year and a half delay, more than three million Washington workers will begin paying an average of $24 a month to pay for a state-run program of long-term care insurance, designed to help care for them in their old age.

What will that premium buy? And will it be enough to keep the program solvent? Host Austin Jenkins sits down with Benjamin Veghte, director of the WA Cares Fund, and State Actuary Matthew Smith, whose job is to assess the financial solvency of state-funded programs like WA Cares and state pension systems.

The background: In 2019, majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature, joined by some Republicans, voted to create a first-in-the-nation state-run long-term care insurance program. The payroll premiums to pay for WA Cares were supposed to begin in January of 2022 but the Legislature that year approved an 18-month delay of game.

Now the program is set to launch in july. That’s when Washington workers will start seeing the .58-percent payroll tax kick in.

What kind of services will the benefit pay for? Is the $36,500 starting benefit — which will be adjusted for inflation — enough to make a difference? And will WA Cares be able to stay solvent, without premium increases? We seek answers to those questions and more, this week on Inside Olympia.