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Private labor insurance at issue

Private labor insurance at issue

by AMANDA WINTERS

Sequim Gazette

The League of Women Voters of Clallam County hosted its final debate Oct. 13 in Sequim on the initiatives to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

FaLeana Wech, executive officer and government affairs director of the North Peninsula Building Association, argued in favor of Initiative 1082, which would allow private industrial insurance. Vicci Rudin, the debate moderator, said the Washington State Labor Counsel was not able to send someone to argue against the measure so fellow LWV member Candace Pratt sat in for them and read from an opposing statement she found online.

Wech said the measure would give the Department of Labor and Industries some well-needed competition. The department is inefficient and unaccountable, she said.

Washington is one of four states that does not allow private-sector industrial insurance, she said.

"Does everyone else have it wrong?" she said.

Pratt, reading from www.voteno1082.com, said the measure would provide no accountability or oversight and the premiums would be set by private insurance companies.

The Office of Financial Management estimates the measure will cost state and local government $250 million over five years, she said.

Wech relayed a story about an employee she had who was injured and twice missed his appointment for treatment.

"They (L&I) kept offering him the service," she said. "They kept it open for three years."

"I wonder if that's any different from other insurance companies?" Pratt said.

Pratt said the measure would hurt businesses because they would have to pay the full premium.

Right now employees share the cost of the premium.

For more information about the measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, go to vote.wa.gov.

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