Cares Act

LEGAL UPDATE: WA Cares Act: Premium collection begins this July

by | May 18, 2023

What is the WA CARES Act?

The WA CARES Act makes long-term care accessible to all workers in Washington State. The program is funded through payroll taxes collected by the state. Participation in the program is mandatory for Washington workers unless they applied for an exemption by November 1, 2021. The plan benefits are anticipated to be available to workers in July 2026 and will cover long-term care services such as professional care, equipment, home safety evaluations, and compensation for family members who provide care. 

Updated Implementation Timeline

WA CARES was originally passed in 2019 under the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Act (Trust Act). Due to complications and legal challenges, Governor Inslee delayed the implementation of the Cares Fund by 18 months. On July 1, 2023, the state will begin to collect premiums via payroll taxes to fund the WA CARES program. Similar to Washington’s paid family and medical leave program, the state’s new long-term care insurance is collected through payroll taxes from employees’ wages. Employers are required to report employees’ wages and hours at the end of each quarter, beginning October 2023. Employers are not responsible for paying any share of the WA Cares premiums.


If an employee obtained private-long term care insurance on or before November 1, 2021 and filed with the Employment Security Department for an exemption prior to December 31, 2022, the employee is exempt from participation. The exemption is permanent, and any exempted employee may not enroll in the program in the future. 

Starting January 1, 2023, employees of Washington employers are eligible for exemptions if:

  • they previously applied for and received an exemption from ESD
  • they live outside of Washington
  • they are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the US armed forces
  • they have non-immigrant work visas; or
  • they are veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher

It is up to the employee to apply for an exemption from WA CARES coverage. Employees who have obtained an exemption from the state must provide employers with confirmation of their exemption. Copies of these letters are available for download by the employee on the Secure Access Washington account, where the employee applied for the exemption. Employers must not deduct WA CARES premiums from employees who have provided an exemption approval letter. It is good practice for employers to keep a copy of the approval letter on file. 

Calculating Total Premiums 

The premium for 2023 is 0.58 percent of an employee’s gross wages. To calculate the premium, multiply the gross wage by 0.0058 to give you the premium for that employee. To make this process easier, there is an updated premium calculator to help you determine premium amounts for both WA CARES and Paid Family and Medical Leave.


Are you ready? Contact us to review the implications for your business and make a plan.