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Washington Healthplanfinder Offers In-Person Assistance Sites For 2018 Open Enrollment

 Note: Keep in mind when applying for health insurance that workers’ compensation payments are NOT taxable income and should NOT be included in your household income figure. – kc


The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced locations of 10 full-service enrollment centers that will offer in-person assistance to customers signing up for health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder during the upcoming open enrollment period, Nov. 1-Dec. 15.

Along with four sites returning from last year, six new in-person assistance locations are set to be introduced in areas including Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Yakima, Kennewick and Wenatchee. Each storefront will be staffed with trained navigators or brokers ready to guide residents through the enrollment process.

“Navigators and brokers provide an invaluable service to consumers who rely on in-person help to understand and select health insurance coverage,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “With our open enrollment period shortened to six weeks this year, it is especially important consumers visit a nearby enrollment center or connect with a member of our statewide network of brokers and navigators beginning on Nov. 1.”

Addresses and contact information for all 2018 enrollment centers

The sites selected reside in counties with some of the highest uninsured rates in Washington state:

Enrollment Center Site (County)

Uninsured Population*

Seattle (King) – New Location
Federal Way (King)

93,817

Tacoma (Pierce) – New Location

39,450

Yakima (Yakima) – New Location

24,776

Spokane (Spokane)

22,921

Vancouver (Clark)

21,261

Bellingham (Whatcom) – New Location

12,137

Kennewick (Benton) – New Location

11,739

Olympia (Thurston)

10,859

Wenatchee (Chelan) – New Location

5,011

 *Estimates for under-65 population, based on adjusted 2016 American Community Survey data

Each enrollment center is hosting regular hours of operation throughout the open enrollment period and will offer extended availability leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline to sign up for coverage. Resources available at each site include computer work stations for customers to compare their health plan options through Washington Healthplanfinder and educational materials explaining important health insurance terms.

Navigators and brokers are now also trained to assist Compact of Free Association (COFA) islanders who sign up for health insurance coverage during open enrollment. Beginning in 2019, residents who qualify for COFA Islander Health Care may have their monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs paid for by the Washington State Health Care Authority.

All residents are encouraged to schedule an appointment to meet with a navigator or broker in their area beginning on Nov. 1. Connecting with in-person help is easiest through the WAPlanfinder mobile app that uses a customer’s current location to provide contact information for and detailed directions to the nearest navigators and brokers.

In-person help can also be found by clicking the “Customer Support” link on www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Additional over-the-phone assistance is available by calling the Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.

 

Washington Healthplanfinder Will Start Open Enrollment Nov. 1

Note: Keep in mind when applying for health insurance that workers’ compensation payments are NOT taxable income and should NOT be included in your household income figure. – kc


Shortened, six-week open enrollment period begins at 8 a.m. November 1st and extends through December 15th

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today confirmed the resources and assistance options available statewide to residents using Washington Healthplanfinder to sign up for health and dental coverage during the open enrollment period that begins at 8 a.m., Nov. 1st.

Different from previous open enrollment periods, residents have until Dec. 15 – six weeks total – to sign up for health and dental insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder that covers themselves and their family during the upcoming year.

“The window for residents to shop and sign up for health and dental insurance is shorter this year. The start of open enrollment should signal all customers to begin evaluating their options as quickly as possible in order to choose their 2019 coverage before the open enrollment period ends on Dec. 15.” – Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Customers accessing Washington Healthplanfinder during open enrollment will be greeted with a more streamlined method for taking action related to their health insurance, including finding financial help. Determining eligibility for free or low-cost coverage offered exclusively through Washington Healthplanfinder is a primary response customers may now select from a redesigned homepage that asks visitors “What would you like to do today?”

Washington Healthplanfinder also remains the only place Washingtonians can compare health plans offered in their county before connecting with coverage that best meets their needs. Smart Planfinder, the consumer decision-support tool introduced in 2017, offers the most advanced method for choosing health insurance. By inputting provider preferences, prescription drug requirements and cost considerations, Smart Planfinder can identify “Smart Choice” plans that more effectively meet projected medical needs.

In-person support may be accessed through Washington Healthplanfinder’sextensive network of trained navigators and brokers. Available at designated enrollment centers and other locations based throughout the state, navigators and brokers offer expert in-person assistance to any individual who needs help enrolling in 2019 health and dental plans.

Linking up with a nearby navigator or broker is easiest through the WAPlanfinder mobile app. By identifying a customer’s current location, WAPlanfinder provides contact information for and directions to the closest in-person help in their neighborhood. The app also directly connects customers with answers to frequently asked questions and allows for coverage-related documents to be uploaded quickly and securely.

As is the case every open enrollment period, customers may access over-the-phone assistance by calling Washington Healthplanfinder’s toll-free Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633). Throughout the open enrollment period, the Customer Support Center will be available during weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Additional hours of availability will be extended at peak sign-up times during open enrollment.  

Special sign-up events are also expected to be held leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline for 2019 coverage. Locations and other information for those events can be found by visiting the #GetCoveredWA hub located at www.wahbexchange.org.  

Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice of 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year.


About Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington Healthplanfinder is an online marketplace for individuals and families in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. The next open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder begins on Nov. 1.

About Washington Apple Health

In Washington, Medicaid is called Washington Apple Health. Free or low-cost coverage is available year-round for those who qualify. Since the Affordable Care Act launched in October 2013, more people have access to preventive care, like cancer screenings, treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other health care services they need to stay healthy. Apple Health clients enroll and renew online using Washington Healthplanfinder. Apple Health is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority: www.hca.wa.gov.

Photo on Foter.com

Time Off or Time-Loss?

Our clients often come to us with issues relating to their employment that are not directly related to their work injury or workers’ compensation claim. Given how entwined a work injury can be with employment-related issues, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of both legal areas.

One issue that comes up quite frequently is whether an Employer can require our clients to use up their vacation, sick-leave, and/or PTO for time missed from work when the reason they are missing work is a work-related injury. The short answer is yes. At present, there is no law that prevents an Employer from forcing injured workers to use up their vacation or PTO while they are unable to work due to their injury. However, it could be unlawful for an Employer to create “special rules” that apply to only one employee or only to employees with L&I claims. If they do so, it is possible they are violating other laws that prohibit discrimination of disabled persons and/or retaliation against employees who have filed L&I claims. Regardless, even if such a policy exists, the Employer cannot prevent injured workers from obtaining monetary workers’ compensation benefits if they would otherwise be entitled to it. If an injured worker is entitled to time-loss or loss of earning power benefits, then it does not matter that they are also receiving PTO or vacation benefits.

Another issue that we may see more of given the recent passage (and soon to be enacted) laws relating to Paid Sick Leave are questions about whether injured workers can earn paid sick leave if they are not working full time or full duty. Depending on what type of employee an injured worker is (salaried or hourly), they may have the right to earn paid sick leave for each hour worked. An Employer should not be able to deny accrual of paid sick leave simply because an injured worker is unable to work full-time or full-duty. Additionally, an Employer cannot prevent an injured worker from using their paid sick leave while the injured worker is receiving benefits under their claim so long as the basis for using it would otherwise be appropriate.

Ultimately, these are difficult questions to answer. The specific circumstances of each case needs to be evaluated to arrive at an answer and may require the advice of both an attorney who focuses on workers’ compensation as well as one who focuses on employment law. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me to start the discussion.

Photo by bunkosquad on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

In Honeywell Asbestos Coverage Fight, Court Won’t Change Allocation Rule

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.law.com

Jaynee LaVecchia
Justice Jaynee LaVecchia

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Honeywell International will not be required to contribute to damages from asbestos claims relating to brake and clutch pads from a company it purchased after insurance companies ceased writing policies that would cover asbestos-related illnesses.

The court was divided 5-1, affirmed a trial court’s ruling that Honeywell had no responsibility for pre-1987 initial exposure claims.

“Under our current law on allocation of liability among insurers, an insured is not forced to assume responsibility in that allocation during the insurance coverage block for years in which insurance coverage is not reasonably available for purchase,” said Justice Jaynee LaVecchia for the majority, citing the high court’s precedent-setting 1994 ruling in Owens-Illinois v. United Insurance.

The majority said it did not believe there was any reason to depart from that precedent.

Bendix, which was subsumed by Honeywell in later years, continued to use asbestos in its brake- and clutch-pad products until 2001, LaVecchia said.

Two insurers, Travelers and St. Paul, urged the court to recognize an equitable “exceptional circumstance” rule to depart from Owens-Illinois, and said the “coverage block” should run until the 2001 end of production of those products. Honeywell contended it had not sought coverage for a claim stemming from any post-1987 initial asbestos exposure.

“No…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Insect-Related Risks to Outdoor Workers

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from mailchi.mp

A new fact sheet and investigation report from the California Department of Public Health’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program details the death of a date palm tree worker after he was attacked by multiple bees at an organic orchard in Southern California. Aggressive Africanized honey bees now account for the majority of feral honey bees in this region. Employers can post the fact sheet – also available in Spanish – at work sites.

Outdoor workers in agriculture, landscaping, construction, and other industries are at risk for insect-related illnesses and injuries, including fatal anaphylactic shock and mosquito-borne and tickborne diseases.

A new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discusses the rise of illnesses from certain insect bites, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a topic page for bites and stings with preventive tips for workers and employers.

Email Occupational Health Watch with feedback about this update or change of address.

An Africanized honey bee
An Africanized honey bee

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Herbicide Occupational Exposures – The Next Wave of Serious Compensation Claims

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

A liability trial commenced this week in San Francisco against Monsanto for the alleged carcinogenic propensities of its popular herbicide RoundUp. The claim was brought on behalf of a school groundskeeper who is suffering from a terminal cancer. He alleged that his exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide caused his disease. The case is one of 5,000 that are now being cued-up for trial.

The case mirrors the trajectory of asbestos exposure claims, the longest run tort in US history. The initial two liability cases, brought against the manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of asbestos fiber in the 1970’s, trigged a mass onslaught of workers’ compensation cases on a national basis.

Glyphosate, N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine, is one of the most widely used herbicides. It is the active ingredient in products such as Roundup, Rodeo Aquatic Herbicide, and Eraser. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that tis used on broadleaf weeds, grasses, and woody plants.

Occupational exposure cases usually turn on the opinions of medical experts and this case is no exception. Reuters reported, “ One of the experts is Beate Ritz, a public health professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who has criticized EPA studies of glysophates as flawed and concluded based on her review of available research that glyphosate-containing products "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" cause the lymphoma cancer….. The other is Alfred Neugut, a…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The Latest Buzz: New Jersey Employer Must Reimburse Injured Employee for Cost of Medical Marijuana

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

Executive Summary: Rejecting Freehold Township’s claim the entire case was barred by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a workers’ compensation judge ruled the municipality must reimburse its employee for the cost of medical marijuana to treat his work-related injury. This contrasts with a recent decision from Maine’s highest court, which held that compliance with an administrative order compelling an employer to subsidize an employee’s use of medical marijuana constitutes aiding and abetting, which is a violation of the CSA.

Analysis: On June 28, 2018, Workers’ Compensation Judge Lionel Simon heard an application by Steven McNeary asking the court to compel Freehold to reimburse him for his medical marijuana purchases. Though McNeary met all criteria to obtain and use medical marijuana under New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), Freehold refused, claiming it would be violating federal law if forced to pay for McNeary’s use of a controlled substance. Judge Simon rejected that argument, finding no conflict between the CSA (designed “to curtail the use and distribution of illicit narcotics for the purposes of the overall general public health”) and the CUMMA (which promotes a “safer, less addictive” treatment for pain).

Judge Simon considered and distinguished Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., LLC, 2018 ME 77 (2018). There, the appellate court affirmed a workers’…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

RBG – Equality in the Workplace

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Last night I had the opportunity of viewing the newly released movie, RBG .an insightful and inspiring documentary about the awesome career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On January 17. 973, Justice Ginsburg, then a Rutgers University Law Professor, argued her first case before the US Supreme Court. She advocated for equality and that workplace benefits should not be the subject of sex discrimination. It began her career-long effort to end sex discrimination not only in the workplace but in all aspects of life.

Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held that benefits given by the United States military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated at oral argument:

"Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Amicus views this case as kin to Reed v. Reed 404 U.S. The legislative judgment in both derives from the same stereotype.

The man is or should be the independent partner in a marital unit.

The woman with an occasional exception is dependent, sheltered from breadwinning experience.

Appellees stated in answer to interrogatories in this case that they remained totally uninformed on the application of this stereotype to serve as families that is they do not know whether the proportion of wage-earning wives of servicemen is small, large, or middle size.

What is known is that by employing the sex criterion, identically situated persons…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The Supreme Court Just Made It A Lot Harder For You To Sue Your Employer

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.huffingtonpost.com

Employers who stiff their workers or discriminate against them just got a big lift from the Supreme Court, which issued a major ruling Monday making it easier for companies to avoid employee lawsuits.

The 5-4 ruling upheld employers’ use of class-action waivers in arbitration agreements. By signing these controversial provisions, workers give up their right to band together and sue in court for back pay or damages, and are instead forced to take their disputes to arbitrators individually.

Arbitration agreements have become a common way for employers to stifle lawsuits that could lead to large plaintiff classes and big payouts. Workers backed by employee groups and labor unions challenged their employers’ use of these agreements, claiming they ran afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, which guarantees workers the right to join forces in “mutual aid and protection.”

The employer-friendly conservative majority on the court decided against the workers. They ruled that collective bargaining law does not supersede federal law that established the arbitration process, therefore making the class-action waivers in employment contracts legitimate.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, saying Congress did not write the NLRA to “displace” federal arbitration law.

“The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The U.S. Must Ban Asbestos – With No Exemptions

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.ewg.org

Fifty-five nations have banned all uses of asbestos. Shockingly, the U.S. isn’t one of them. The nation’s new toxics law gives the Environmental Protection Agency the power to completely ban the notorious killer, but the chemical industry is pushing for continued exemptions for some uses.

The EPA is expected to release a key document detailing how the agency plans to evaluate the risk of asbestos soon. But the current scope of the EPA’s so-called problem formulation document doesn’t even call for evaluation of the risk of a particularly dangerous type of asbestos that’s in the insulation of an estimated 30 million homes.

Such insulation is only one of the sources through which Americans can be exposed to asbestos. Investigations by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, or ADAO, and EWG have found that even some children’s toys and makeup contain asbestos-contaminated talc.

Even the smallest amount of asbestos fiber, if inhaled, can trigger deadly asbestos-related disease later in life. According to Dr. Jukka Takala, president of the International Commission of Occupational Health, asbestos-related diseases cause more than 39,000 deaths in the U.S each year – more than double the previous estimate of 15,000 deaths a year.

ADAO, EWG and other public health advocates have been working for a complete asbestos ban for more than a decade. We have testified at congressional hearings, met with the EPA, and submitted more than 100…

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