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Gov. Inslee statement on state Supreme Court's order on the McCleary case

Access Washington News - August 13, 2015 - 12:04

“Today’s order from the Supreme Court acknowledges that significant progress has been made toward meeting the state’s obligation to adequately fund basic education. But everyone understood that even with those historic investments in education, our work would not be done.”

Residential mental-health services now on par with medical coverage

Access Washington News - August 13, 2015 - 10:27
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has clarified to insurance companies in Washington that mental-health services must now be offered in parity with medical services.

The commissioner updated rules on mental-health parity in 2014 and asked insurers to review previous mental-health claims that had been denied under a blanket exclusion. He asked insurers to rectify those denials.

The need for clarification arose after a consumer filed a complaint with our office after being denied for residential mental-health treatment. The individual said this violated federal laws regarding mental-health parity.

The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires insurers in Washington to provide residential mental-health benefits to consumers on par with similar medical health benefits.

Most insurers were already providing the mental-health services on par with medical services. The consumer complaint prompted further clarification.

Better access to mental-health treatment continues as a top public policy priority in Washington. Consumers with concerns can contact the commissioner’s office at any time for information. Consumer advocates are also available to take calls toll-free at 1-800-562-6900.

Read more about mental-health parity

L&I closes its investigation of junior hockey teams

Access Washington News - August 12, 2015 - 14:20

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has closed its child labor investigation into junior hockey league teams in the state. There were no findings.

Air pollution rule proposes new fees

Access Washington News - August 12, 2015 - 13:50
OLYMPIA – Under the federal Clean Air Act, Washington is required to have an air operating permit program for the largest sources of air pollution in the state. Read more....

OIC hiring six temporary customer service specialists

Access Washington News - August 12, 2015 - 12:05

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) is hiring for six part-time, non-permanent Customer Service Specialist 1 positions. The positions are located in our Tumwater headquarters and are expected to work 20-30 hours per week. The expected duration of the appointments is four months, starting September 2015.

The positions provide customer service and technical assistance to the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) staff and volunteers surrounding the annual Medicare open enrollment period. The positions also assist in answering phone calls and consumer questions regarding their Medicare Part D options.

Duties of the positions include, but are not limited to:
  • Assisting consumers by telephone or email regarding technical questions or concerns regarding Medicare enrollment, coverage and options. 
  • Explaining to consumers available outreach, workshop and public media events in their communities.
  • Providing information about services available through the OIC, especially consumer advocacy. 
  • Resolving consumer concerns and issues with a thorough analysis and research and provide unbiased impartial information. 
The deadline to apply is Aug. 19.

To apply, or for more information, visit careers.wa.gov

BNSF fined $86,000 for water quality violations in Whatcom and Skagit counties

Access Washington News - August 11, 2015 - 11:30
The Department of Ecology has fined BNSF Railway $86,000 for placing creosote-treated railroad ties and other materials from maintenance projects in Whatcom and Skagit county water bodies. Read more....

AG Ferguson responds to city council resolutions on Arlene's Flowers

Access Washington News - August 11, 2015 - 10:36

Attorney General Bob Ferguson today issued a letter to Kennewick City Councilmember John Trumbo and Pasco City Councilmember Bob Hoffmann, in response to resolutions each has proposed.

The nearly identical resolutions – based on a draft provided by the Family Policy Institute of Washington conservative interest group – call on Ferguson to drop his office’s legal action against Arlene’s Flowers. 

Gallup poll: Washington ranks 5th among states with drop in uninsured rate

Access Washington News - August 10, 2015 - 16:01

According to a Gallup poll released today, Washington is one of five states to exceed a 10 percent drop in the number of uninsured people.

Seven of the 10 states with the biggest reductions have two things in common: they expanded Medicaid (called Apple Health in Washington) and established a state-based health exchange (ours is called Washington Healthplanfinder).

Washington state has seen record-low rate requests from health insurers in the past two years. Insurers proposed an average 5.4 percent increase for 2016. These plans are now under review and the average rate increase is likely to be lower.

For 2015 plans, insurers proposed an average rate increase of 8 percent. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler eventually approved an average 1.5 percent rate increase.

"I'm pleased to see the health insurers show an increased interest in the individual market and to see rates continue to come in relatively low,” Kreidler said when the 2016 rates were submitted in May of this year.

Open enrollment for 2016 health plans begins on Nov. 1.

15-041 Campfires prohibited in all state parks

Access Washington News - August 10, 2015 - 15:34
Effective immediately, all state parks and ocean beach areas managed by State Parks are prohibited until further notice due to extreme heat and dry conditions. The ban is part of a statewide effort to prevent human-caused wildfires.

15-054 Washington State Parks announces 'free day' for Aug. 25

Access Washington News - August 10, 2015 - 12:58
Tuesday, Aug. 25 is a State Parks 'free day' in honor of the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. No Discover Pass will be needed at state parks.

Emergency funds support three drought-relief projects

Access Washington News - August 10, 2015 - 10:00
Emergency funding is going to support three drought-relief projects in Eastern, Central and Western Washington. The money will help pay for a new well in Stevens County, water conservation in Benton County, and protect spawning salmon in the Dungeness River on the Olympic Peninsula. Read more....