State delays setting workers' comp rates

The Olympian
Thursday, September 16, 2010

The state Department of Labor and Industries will delay its traditional September calculation and announcement of workers' compensation rates for 2011 until after the Nov. 2 election to avoid confusion for businesses.
However, business interests backing Initiative 1082 – which would let private insurers sell workers’ comp policies in Washington – see a sinister motive. They are skeptical of the agency’s claim that the delay is the result of changes in rates that passage of I-1082 would require, including a change in rate calculations from an hours-worked basis to one based on every $100 of payroll.
The spat comes at a time one consumer coalition – Americans for Insurance Reform, whose leaders have worked with Ralph Nader – says Washington’s workers’ comp system is one of the best deals for business of any in the nation. In a report released Tuesday, the group calls L&I’s state-run system “a model for efficiency” and says Washington pays out twice as much per $1 of employer premium as what private systems do. Washington’s system also is set apart by its requirement that workers split premiums with employers.
Other report findings: “Over the 5-year period ending in 2008, the cost to private insurers to run their workers’ compensation systems was more than 90 percent higher than Washington state’s costs to run its state system.”
“I’m shocked by it. I didn’t expect in to be that clear,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy who co-founded Americans for Insurance Reform with Robert Hunter, insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America. “You are so lucky in Washington to have a state-run system. Most other states have gotten rid of it. … It’s a shame it’s at risk right now.”
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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