I-1082 Will Stabilize Worker’s Compensation in Washington

Oct. 13, 2010 –

Washington state will benefit three ways if Initiative 1082 passes, according to the highly respected Washington Policy Center (WPC).

WPC released a study that shows I-1082 will “help keep premium increases in check, encourage innovation in rehabilitating injured workers, and most importantly, provide safer workplaces.” That means employers and workers will benefit.

The WPC points out the four goals of I-1082:

  1. Maintain existing benefit levels for injured workers while improving their opportunity to return to work.
  2. Eliminate the requirement that workers pay one-half of their medical coverage for on-the-job injuries.
  3. Open up the current state-run industrial insurance system to competition from private industrial insurance providers, with a July 1, 2012 start date for an open market.
  4. Maintain a “best practices” approach to worker safety as developed by both private and public sectors

The WPC study (Citizens Guide to Initiative 1082: To Reform Workers’ Compensation in Washington) concludes that Washington state is a “high benefit, high cost state system.”

It explains how the current government system “is on a shaky financial footing.”

The study also asserts “punishes a business community that has produced safer workplaces over the last two decades, and has been rewarded with steadily increasing insurance rates.”

The study’s most salient points:

  1. Research shows that more competition in industrial insurance would help keep premiums in check, encourage innovation in rehabilitating injured workers and provide safer workplaces.
  2. States that have recently introduced a competitive industrial insurance market have seen costs decline and customer satisfaction increase.
  3. As written, I-1082 relieves employees from paying for industrial insurance premiums. As in the other 49 states, businesses would pay 100% of the cost.
  4. I-1082 would not address every detail of the transition to a “hybrid” industrial insurance market, but would set mechanisms in place to do so.
  5. As written, I-1082 does not alter the benefit levels of injured workers in any way.

Proponents argue that Washington state is only one of four state-government monopolies in the nation. They lament Washington’s worker’s comp increases while Oregon has had the same rates for the last two decades. They point to the state’s second-highest cost per worker, and “the third most generous benefit package in the nation.”

From the Coach’s Corner, for more information, here are three I-1082 resource links:

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.