Schweitzer urges Inslee to end long-term care insurance benefits | Local


The founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories wrote a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to end a new state-mandated insurance program that he deems unfair to SEL employees living in Washington and DC. Idaho.

Edmund Schweitzer’s letter criticized the Long-Term Care Trust Act, which established a mandatory long-term care insurance benefit in 2019. The benefit is called the WA Cares Fund and will pay up to $ 36,500 from from 2025.

To fund it, Washington employees will start paying payroll taxes starting Jan. 1.

“I urge you to use your authority to stop this law before employees start paying for something they don’t want, need, or may never see even if they wanted to,” Schweitzer wrote to Inslee. “We’ve heard a lot from people, nothing positive. “

The letter says SEL’s human resources department has received more than 400 emails from company employees saying they don’t want the benefit.

Pullman-based SEL employs many Idaho residents who will have to contribute to the fund even if they cannot receive its benefits, Schweitzer wrote.

“Many of our Washington-based employee-owners are residents of Idaho,” he wrote. “They would pay the tax, but never take advantage of it. Unlike participants in a real private insurance program, these employees will have their monthly premiums collected and then distributed by the state to others.

Schweitzer said Thursday it was a taxation without representation for Idaho residents.

Employees can opt out of this payroll deduction if they purchase their only state-approved long-term care insurance policy. They have from October 1 to October 1. 31 to subscribe to a qualifying private long-term care insurance plan and be permanently excluded from WA Cares Fund benefits.

As Schweitzer pointed out in his letter, the state has not finalized the rules for qualifying private plans.

Schweitzer said SEL was looking for insurance companies that might be options for SEL employees wishing to opt out, but only one of the six insurance companies SEL contacted responded with a proposal.

He added that this proposal would have an age limit of 70, which means Schweitzer himself would not be eligible for insurance at 73.

“So I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about it,” he said. “But I’m sure I’m not going to pay the tax. I’m going to find a legal and ethical way not to pay because I think it’s so misguided.

Washington workers will initially pay $ 0.58 per $ 100 of income. There is no cap on the amount employees can pay in deductions and the amount of the deduction may increase over time.

Schweitzer wrote in his letter that the state should not force people to buy a product. He said the state is distorting the market.

“Forced participation in a state-mandated program does not replace individual choice and responsibility,” he wrote. “Some Washingtonians want long-term care insurance and are free to choose to purchase it, in various plans offered by multiple providers that best suit their personal circumstances. One size does not fit all! Others don’t want or need it.

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