Tag Archives: ballot initiative

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Voting Has Never Been This Important To Workers

  • VoteI do not usually get on any political band wagons, but I feel compelled to reach out this election cycle to point out an issue on the ballot that I feel strongly about – Initiative 1082, the workers’ compensation initiative.  I have spent the last 24 years of my professional career in the area of workers’ compensation law.  It is a shame that this area of law, and this system, which is so little known and little understood by the general public  has made its way to the ballot via I-1082.  I fear that most voters, reading the plain language of the initiative, will unknowingly vote yes using what seems to be common sense to allow private insurance companies to start selling workers’ compensation insurance directly to employers in the State of Washington.  Competition is a good thing, right? Doesn’t sound like a big deal.

    One local business owner wrote an e-mail this morning saying that this initiative would raise his expenses by $13,000+ – in the first 18 months!

    I have always adhered to the sage wisdom that if you don’t know anything, or enough, about the implications of an initiative, it is always best to vote NO.  With I-1082 that is even more the case, because the implications are significant, and the devil is in the details of the 10 pages setting up this new system that you will not be reading on your ballot.  Here’s a few details for you–in Washington State, all workers have historically paid a percentage of industrial insurance premiums, sharing this expense with their employers.  Thus, we are all stakeholders in this system, and I think that’s a good thing.  This initiative will place the entire financial burden of industrial insurance premiums on employers.  So, this is not good news for business, who will see their costs rise significantly and immediately.  One local business owner wrote an e-mail this morning saying that this initiative would raise his expenses by $13,000+ – in the first 18 months!  Continue reading

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I-1082: The Wrong Solution For Washington’s Workers’ Compensation System

No on 1082Almost one hundred years ago, Washington was one of the first states to enact the oldest social insurance program in our country – workers’ compensation.  It was part of a social compact between business and labor in which employees traded their right to sue in tort for their injuries for a more timely, but lower benefit, no-fault system to cover their injuries.  Only in the U.S. – among virtually all industrialized democracies with workers’ compensation systems – is the private, for-profit insurance industry permitted to underwrite these legislatively mandated programs and have any role in this social contract.  Our state has operated without the intrusion of the for-profit industry for its entire existence, and despite its faults and shortcomings, Washington’s system is viewed among the states as one of the most highly efficient and productive,  The proponents of I-1082 have simply not made a case for the so-called “reform” they claim privatizing our system will bring.  Reject this initiative – it is the wrong solution for our state.

Reject this initiative – it is the wrong solution for our state.

As we struggle to come out of the “Great Recession,” Washington voters face real issues, many created by our slumping economy.  Continue reading

Seattlepi.com: I-1082 – Boon To BIAW, Bad For Workers

Reprinted from SEATTLEPI.COM EDITORIAL BOARD

Initiative 1082, if read carefully, reveals itself as a financial cash cow for insurance companies and the Building Industry Association of Washington — its prime sponsor — and sour milk for the state’s workforce.

The initiative would privatize the state’s worker compensation system by allowing insurance companies to compete with the state to provide coverage. The BIAW and similar groups could become partners with insurance companies in covering workers.

Workers comp, like Social Security, is a contract: The public has said to workers — those who put bodies and limbs at risk — that if injured you get compensated, and you don’t have to sue.

Opponents urge a reading of its fine print: The State Insurance Commissioner would be shorn of oversight, and what insurance companies would charge. In the words of I-1082, “Such rates shall not require commissioner preapproval prior to use.”

Insurers would not be required to give notice, to physicians or legal counsel or anybody, in a case where an insurance claim is denied: The insurer would have the power of indefinite delay and judging a worker’s injury and benefit claim, with no enforcement mechanism to protect the worker.

But you don’t need fine print to understand goals of the initiative’s sponsors. In a recent issue of the BIAW’s newsletter, executive vice president Tom McCabe wrote:

“I personally yearn for the day when the mammoth state Department of Labor and Industries is closed down, windows shuttered, with weeds growing all over its sprawling campus.”

Washington’s worker compensation system was adopted 99 years ago, at a time when the Evergreen State had a logging-mining-farming economy.

It is a no-fault, non-profit system that safeguards employers from lawsuits over job-related injuries, while providing medical insurance and partial wage compensation to injured workers.

Workers comp, like Social Security, is a contract: The public has said to workers — those who put bodies and limbs at risk — that if injured you get compensated, and you don’t have to sue.

The system has some flaws. Continue reading

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Initiative 1082: Join Us In Opposing This Sneaky Initiative

No On 1082 Bull

I-1082 is a massive power grab by the insurance industry, written by insurance industry lobbyists under the guise of workers’ compensation “reform,” to gain excessive profits at the expense of workers, small businesses, and taxpayers in our state — and it will be on the ballot this November. I-1082 was written by the insurance industry, and just like an insurance policy, its fine print is filled with hidden provisions, all at your expense.

In fact, the fine print of I-1082 gives special exemptions to workers’ compensation insurers that no other line of insurance is allowed — not car, not home, not life or health. It exempts private workers’ compensation insurance companies from almost all of the oversight and consumer protections covering every other type of insurance sold in the state. I-1082 also lets insurers set their own rates and allows them to wrongfully deny and delay legitimate claims with virtually no way to hold them accountable.

Workers’ compensation insurance is there when you and your family need it. If you’re injured on the job, workers’ compensation pays your doctor bills and provides some income until you can work again.

But I-1082 would wreak havoc on workers’ compensation here in Washington. We’ve seen what the insurance industry has done Continue reading

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Initiative 1082: The Insurance Industry’s Plan To Destroy Washington State Workers’ Compensation

No on 1082Friends:

The only way most of you would even know anything about this is if you were approached by a signature-gatherer to sign an initiative petition for something called I-1082 to get on the November ballot.  Some of you may have already signed this if it was discussed by the signature-gatherer in conjunction with another ballot initiative, such as privatization of liquor sales in Washington.  You have probably heard some of the meaningless jargon, such as “allow private insurance to ‘compete’ in the workers’ compensation system.”

But, here we are, now faced with a measure that is calculated essentially to destroy one of the best workers’ compensation systems in the country.  Sure, many of you may have had, or are still having, a contentious experience with the Department of Labor & Industries, or a self-insured employer, over a workers’ comp claim.  If there weren’t a lot of problem claims in the system, our firm wouldn’t be in the business of representing injured workers.  But compared with most other state workers’ comp systems Continue reading

Approve Referendum 67!

Referendum 67 simply requires the insurance industry to be fair and pay legitimate claims in a reasonable and timely manner.

Please join us in voting to APPROVE Referendum 67 in November.

Dear clients and friends:

Referendum 67 is an important consumer protection measure on the November 6th ballot. If you are forced by your insurance company to file a lawsuit over a legitimate claim you’ve made, and you win, you will get paid for your claim but nothing more for the company’s wrongful delaying or denying your claim. Your own legal costs to recover against the insurer are not recovered.Referendum 67 fixes that by allowing the court to assess penalties against the insurer for that type of conduct. It therefore creates an incentive for insurance companies to treat their policy-holders fairly.Referendum 67 covers claims related to homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, long-term care insurance, property insurance and small business insurance.

4100 complaints are made annually to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner about illegitimately denied claims, which likely means there are thousands more unreported instances of this kind of behavior by the insurance industry. Ultimately this conduct can lead to denied medical care, loss of a business, and ruined credit for policy holders. Continue reading