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The Wall Street Journal Compares L&I in WA & OR

The Wall Street Journal published an article on Sunday comparing L&I in Washington and Oregon.

Average time loss claims in Washington is 270 days which is twice the national average and compares to 70 days in Oregon which has private insurance.

In 2007 and 2008 Washington granted lifetime pensions to 3,600 workers compared to 24 in Oregon.

Last year there was a 7.6% increase in L&I premiums. Oregon hasn’t raised premiums in 2 decades and this year returned $100 million to employers. 

In West Virginia which transitioned to a competitive market 5 years ago approximately 200 insurers moved in the market and premiums dropped 30%.

We ask that you consider voting yes on I-1082
Read the full article here
 

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IRS Releases Draft W-2 Form for 2011; Announces Relief for Employers

The IRS released a 2011 Draft W-2 form yesterday, October 12, 2010, which can be used by employers to report wages and employee tax withholding. They also announced the deferment of the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.

The IRS continues to stress that this reporting is for informational purposes only. The amounts reportable are not taxable. They are to be used to provide employees with greater transparency into overall health care costs.

For a copy of Notice 2010-69, please go to: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-2010-69.pdf

A more detailed update can be found at: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=228881,00.html

Please contact your PS&F Benefits Team if you would like additional information.

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Vote ‘Yes’ for Initiative 1082

I just returned from a business conference in Washington DC. In all my travels, this is the first time I have spent more than a few hours here, and although I didn’t get the chance for serious exploring, I was able to take in some of the sites.

The discussions around politics today often center on the frustrations about the polarization, and resulting paralysis, that seems to have gripped the legislative process. Too often, key discussions tend to divide down party lines, with each side seemingly more interested in promoting or protecting political ideology than enabling legislation that will move the country forward.

A critical issue currently is increasing jobs, especially among small businesses. Small businesses are the heart of the US economy. Small business employs the majority of Americans and pays the majority of taxes. This year’s November 2 election in Washington State has a number of critical initiatives being put before the voters that could have dramatic impact on jobs and the small businesses that create them. One in particular is important to me and to Parker Smith & Feek. Washington State’s Initiative 1082 would end the Department of Labor & Industries monopoly on workers compensation. I support the initiative and urge you to seriously consider the issues.

Washington is one of only four states in the country that does not allow private insurance companies to compete with a state-sponsored fund in providing workers compensation coverage. To put this in perspective, PS&F provides our Washington clients with property, auto, liability, healthcare and many other kinds of insurance coverage – but not workers compensation. By contrast, our Anchorage office provides a full range of services, including workers comp, and is able to serve all our client’s needs there.

The ‘no’ side in the 1082 debate would have you believe that if the initiative passes, insurance companies will take advantage of injured workers in Washington and not pay claims. There isn’t any evidence to remotely suggest this is true. As I mentioned, 46 states currently operate with an open competition system and insurance companies pay millions of claims each year. The best systems exist where there is a strong state fund option as well as private insurance and where competition has made everyone better. These programs are characterized by excellent safety education and strong claims management, with the result being fewer serious injuries, injured workers being returned to gainful employment more quickly, and lower workers compensation rates for everyone.

Unfortunately, the debate over Initiative 1082 is predictably falling down party lines. This should not be a D v R issue, but should be about what creates a healthy, vibrant environment for employees and employers – especially small businesses. A vote for 1082 will create much needed competition and will inevitably improve the operations of L&I’s State Fund. Government isn’t the problem, per se, and certainly government isn’t evil. But government is best at oversight and regulation, ensuring that the rights of all are protected. The proposed legislation will maintain government’s appropriate role as a watchdog and will allow them to continue to compete in the open market.

Please, consider a ‘YES’ for Initiative 1082, and let the competitive marketplace drive innovation and cost reduction, making Washington a better environment for business and jobs.

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An eye opening opportunity

Last week, on September 24th, 16 individuals from Parker, Smith & Feek’s Bellevue office participated in the King County United Way Day of Caring, partnering alongside industry friends, Alaska National.

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Join us for Parker, Smith & Feek’s first ever Health Reform Tweet Chat

On October 6th, 2010 Parker, Smith & Feek will be hosting its first ever Health Reform Tweet Chat.

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Healthcare Reform Hits Main Street

The following video from the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation provides a good overview of the Healthcare Reform Legislation. Though some of the content can be debated, we think this is a good primer and we welcome you to contact us to discuss it.

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Get motivated by using Social Media

One of our employees was telling me today, how he uses Twitter to log his training for an upcoming Marathon.

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The financial environment…then and now….

On Friday, September 10th, the Ted Spread closed with a value of 16.03 bps. Two years ago, on September 10th, 2008, the Ted Spread closed at 117.97 bps, and just five days later, after Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy, the spread closed at 201.38 bps.

On October 13th 2008, then Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulsen and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernake and their consortium took dramatic action. Nine major domestic bank CEO’s were called to meet that weekend and all were asked to sign on to the ‘solutions’ term sheet with no CEO allowed to leave until all had penned their names to the ‘agreement’. The markets swayed and strained- Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were deemed unsinkable and ‘life boated’ by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and the U.S. Congress. A few weeks after the 2008 November general election General Motors and Chrysler were deemed too unionized to fail and transformed into Government Motors, auto executives were dismissed and company bond holders were considered forfeitable capital providers.

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The secret to insurance

We in the insurance industry always wonder if our clients actually read their insurance policies. I realize this is not something that appeals to most normal people, but for most of us it is a necessity, whether it is in our personal or professional lives.

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Looking for the positive.

This week saw an abrupt change in the weather here in Seattle. Long gone are the 90-degree temperatures of summer and we have now settled down into the low 60’s that indicate that winter is just around the corner.

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Every company is different

One thing that I have seen over the last 18 months is that when it comes to wellness, every company is different. One wellness challenge or initiative may work for one company, but not achieve the desired results for another.

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10 Years – So What?

Among the daily emails that urge you to act, there is the occasional message that causes you to think. I had this experience when I read the invitation for the annual potluck luncheon for employees that have been with our firm for 10 years or more.

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