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Category: Health care

July
10th

PEBB outlines employee health rates for 2014 that show a few small premium increases

State employees may get another dose of good news soon. The Public Employees Benefits Board received a briefing Wednesday on what 2014 health-insurance premiums could look like for current and retired employees, and the news is pretty good.

A few plans show rates going up slightly and a few go down. The PEBB, which is made up of representatives of personnel offices, unions and retirees, is scheduled to adopt the new rates schedule [pages 5-10] on Wednesday, July 17. Employees can enroll for coverage  in the fall.

The premium news comes as

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June
27th

UPDATE – Budget deal to use ‘pilot projects’ to let some part time employees get healthcare via Obamacare exchange

Senate Ways and Means chairman Andy Hill says the handshake budget agreement reached with the House negotiators at 10:40 a.m. Thursday does not force part time state or K-12 employees into the Obamacare health exchange to get their health coverage.  Instead, the goal is to try pilot projects that a limited number of unions could opt to consider, Hill said.

The Republican budget writer spoke shortly after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the budget agreement in a minute-long press conference.

Labor unions including the Washington Federation of State Employees had been strongly opposed to any mandatory push that created a two-tier

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June
5th

CLARIFIED – House budget plan says no thanks to Senate proposal putting part-time workers into Obamacare exchange for health coverage

House Democrats’ latest budget proposal gives in to Senate Republicans on many spending and tax questions, but it holds firm its opposition to the Senate’s plan to shift  part-time school or state employees into the health exchange being opened next year via Obamacare. Washington appears to be the first state to seriously consider the concept as a budget-saving tool.

Rep. Ross Hunter, the Medina Democrat who chairs the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, said the proposal included in the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus budget has problems. It assumes some $127.2 million in savings from giving part time workers a $2 an

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April
23rd

UPDATE – Senate passes bill putting part time state, K-12 workers into health benefit exchanges; Inslee says bill premature but idea may have merit

A controversial bill that puts low-wage, part time workers into the health exchange created by Obamacare won passage by the narrowest of margins in the state Senate this week. Senate Bill 5905 is assumed to save the state $128 million over two years and is a key piece of the Republican-authored Senate’s no-new-taxes budget.

The vote on Monday was 25-to-23 and it needed the votes of two members of the Senate Democratic Caucus – Sens. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam and Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens – to pass. Republican Sen. Pam

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April
1st

Put treadmills at work stations to help workers get fit? Wash. wellness bill doesn’t go as far as Oregon idea

A story out of Oregon on Monday shows a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist using a treadmill while also working at his computer work station – a melded set-up designed to make desk work less bad for a person’s health. The headline on the piece by Stateline.org’s Melissa Maynard calls treadmill desks the “latest in office supplies,’’ and it does not appear to be an April Fools Day spoof.

The featured doctor, James Levine, invented the device and he was using the device when he testified via teleconference to a recent Oregon committee hearing. Some lawmakers led by

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March
13th

Senate approves bill requiring wellness incentives, penalties for state workers

A controversial wellness bill for state employees passed the Senate on a divided vote of 28-21 Wednesday afternoon. Senate Bill 5811 requires financial incentives including premium price breaks or higher premiums to encourage employees to achieve wellness goals.

The vote came just hours before a 5 p.m. cutoff for passing policy bills off the House or Senate floors. The Washington Federation of State Employees had criticized earlier versions of the bill from Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who had wanted to strip workers of their collective bargaining rights on health benefits.

The amendment offered on the

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Feb.
28th

Senate Republicans move ‘lite’ version of state worker pension reform; wellness and contracting out bills also OK’d by budget committee

Facing a deadline this week for passing fiscal bills, the Senate Ways and Means Committee gave approval early Thursday evening to three proposals opposed by state-employee groups.

One proposal, Senate Bill 5851, gives new state employees the option of entering into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, called the Washington Public Employees Savings Plan.

Offered by Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey of Oak Harbor, the concept appears to be a lighter, kinder version of the one pushed by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, who wants  to force new hires and current state employees younger than 45 into defined contribution

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Feb.
26th

Sen. Tom’s pension idea emerges as potential Senate trading card for K-12 education taxes

It’s still early in this year’s 105 day session at the Washington state Capitol. But it’s not too early to point out again that the Republican-dominated coalition in charge of the Senate is passing bills that could be valuable trading cards late in session when serious discussions of raising new revenues for K-12 public schools get going in earnest.

Until yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and members of his Majority Coalition Caucus have been singularly hostile toward taxes. But as we reported here today, Tom’s  proposal to end fixed-payment pensions for state worker younger than 45 took a beating in the Monday

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