I-1082 brings needed workers' comp reform

The initiative allows for private insurance carriers to sell workers' compensation insurance.

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Competition in the marketplace generally results in better service and lower costs.

And that's why we believe Initiative 1082 is good for Washington state.

Currently employers in Washington must purchase workers' compensation insurance from the state Department of Labor & Industries. Washington is one of just four states that has a lock -- a monopoly -- on workers' compensation insurance.

I-1082 changes that. It allows employers to purchase workers' compensation insurance, which is mandatory, from qualified private industrial insurance carriers.

Companies could qualify to issue industrial insurance policies through licensing and regulation by the state insurance commissioner. These private industrial insurers would have the same responsibilities under law as the Department of Labor & Industries. Claims can be appealed the same way they are now.

I-1082, simply put, offers employers more choice.

But I-1082 doesn't mandate the rules for workers' compensation. It mandates the Legislature enact conforming legislation. This is an opportunity to craft rules that serve workers and employers.

In addition, the initiative eliminates the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums.

Yet, despite that caveat, the business organizations are supportive of I-1082. Apparently they see this as a reasonable trade off to obtain reform to the now-flawed workers' compensation system.

We recommend a yes vote on I-1082.

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