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Entitled insurers, oh no Dunn didn’t, schmausterity…

Thursday, June 21, 2012



► In today’s Seattle Times — U.S. Supreme Court won’t be last word on health reform in Washington state (by state Sen. Karen Keiser) — The Affordable Care Act provided momentum that will make real change inevitable, regardless of what the court rules. As state legislators, we should not let Washington revert to a system where insurance companies cherry-picked which Americans received access to health insurance. If the act is struck down, we must take action at the legislative level to ensure that these protections remain law.

EDITOR’S NOTE — What she said. Here’s another reason why the insurance companies are desperately hoping the Supreme Court hands them back the keys to the U.S. health care system…

► In today’s Huffington Post — Health insurers owe $1.1 billion in rebates— Millions of consumers and businesses will receive $1.1 billion in rebates this summer from health insurance plans that failed to meet the ACA’s requirement that insurance companies spend at least 80% of premiums on actual health care. But, if the Supreme Court overturns the health-care law, experts say those checks are unlikely to hit Americans’ mailboxes.

► From AP — Regence BlueShield seeks to increase premiums — Regence BlueShield said Wednesday it wants to increase average premiums by nearly 15% on customers who buy coverage for themselves and their families, a week after the state insurance commissioner said the insurance company is sitting on record surpluses.

► At Huffington Post — Give the people what they want (by Robert Scheer) — Let me humbly suggest that as an alternative to a mandatory health insurance system, we return to the idea of covering most people by attracting them to quality public and private programs through consumer choice. It’s called Medicare and it works splendidly.




► In The Stranger — Inflating his résumé — Back in 2008, the Seattle Times torpedoed Darcy Burner’s congressional campaign, excoriating her in a front-page story for claiming to have a Harvard degree in economics, when it turned out to be her “minor.” If Burner’s statement was an exaggeration, then Dunn’s incredible claim of 3½ years’ experience is an outright lie. For two of the years he claims to have “worked in a very complex civil practice,” he wasn’t even a lawyer.

► In The Hill — High stakes for Democrats in AFSCME vote — Any substantial shift in the union’s political spending could have huge implications for the Democratic Party — a fact that isn’t lost on either AFSCME candidate.

► At Huffington Post — AFL-CIO to counteract negative ads with new social approach — The AFL-CIO has concluded that voters who discussed negative ads with their peers, or a credible source on politics, were more likely to be skeptical of their content. Those who did not discuss the ads appeared to take them more at face value. The organization aims to fuel those conversations to create a more aware electorate.

► At Huffington Post — Democratic women governors may disappear after 2012 elections — There are currently two Democratic female governors in the entire nation: Washington’s Christine Gregoire and North Carolina’s Bev Perdue. After November, when both are stepping down, there may be zero.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington facing slow recovery — Washington’s economic outlook barely changed over the last four months as the state’s few bright spots – jobs in aerospace and software – were all but canceled by pending national and international problems, including a recession in Europe, a slowdown in the Asian economy, and the year-end “fiscal cliff” Congress has created.

► From AP — Revenue forecast for state little changed— Washington state government can expect to bring in $16.1 million less than projected in the current budget cycle because of a lackluster economic recovery, forecasters said Wednesday. That figure is relatively stable compared to forecasts in recent years.




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Parsons to close Pasco shop, lay off 103 workers— Parsons Technology Development and Fabrication Complex in Pasco plans to lay off 103 workers by Sept. 28 and permanently close its doors. Parsons notified the state of Washington on Wednesday that it planned to start the layoffs Aug. 19. “The entire facility will be closed,” Parsons said in a letter to the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council, which represents some of the workers.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Another shipper moves Seattle container work to Tacoma — Shipping line Hamburg Süd said Wednesday it would shift its container operations from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma at the end of July.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Microsoft should ensure labor fairness as a Surface component (editorial) — Microsoft should release the names of its suppliers, join the Fair Labor Association and submit to more unannounced visits by third-party auditors. Audit results should be posted publicly. Workers aren’t disposable plastic bags. Let’s demand ethically made electronics.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Most minimum wage earners are women — If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.52 per hour today. Instead, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Stunning as that is, it gets even worse when you realize that the majority of those paid the minimum wage are women: In 2011, more than 62% of minimum wage workers were women.

EDITOR’S NOTE — With the passage a 1998 initiative, spearheaded by the Washington State Labor Council, voters made this state the first to automatically adjust its minimum wage for inflation. It is now $9.04 an hour.

► In The Hill — Optimism sparks up as transportation talks get fresh start — Without a deal by June 30 on a long-term bill, lawmakers could be forced to approve the 10th short-term extension of existing funding, something Republicans have raised as a possibility. But Democrats warn the highway trust fund backed by the gas tax could go bankrupt without a new funding mechanism for projects.

► At Huffington Post — Rite Aid to settle claims of unpaid overtime for $20.9 million — A total of more than 6,000 current and former associates had sued the retail giant, alleging they had been incorrectly classified as assistant managers and co-managers and hence unfairly denied overtime pay.

► From AP — American Airlines pilots reject contract — The pilots’ union has rejected the company’s latest contract offer. The move could clear the way for a judge to decide whether American can impose its own cost-cutting terms, including layoffs.




► In today’s Washington Post — We’re not Greece (by E.J. Dionne) — The real lesson from Europe is not that we should all tighten our belts and endure more pain but that we need to get the global economy moving. That means our Federal Reserve should pursue more expansive policies. And if congressional Republicans weren’t so determined to block nearly every initiative President Obama puts forward, they would agree to pump more money into state governments and into infrastructure spending to speed a decline in unemployment.


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