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The Washington state health exchange has enrolled more than 248,000 people in health plans through Medicaid and private insurance plans.

In the past three months, Healthplanfinder has enrolled about 71,000 people (about 29 percent of the total) in commercial health insurance plans, and another 177,000 in Medicaid plans.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange missed its goal of enrolling 130,000 people in commercial health plans by the end of 2013, but another 72,000 people have applied for private coverage and have not yet paid. Once those payments are complete, the number of private enrollments will be above that benchmark. read more »


SeaTac wage activists attended a Port of Seattle Commission meeting on Tuesday to appeal to commissioners to get a $15-per-hour minimum wage reinstated at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

On Dec. 27, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas struck down part of a city of SeaTac ordinance that would have increased the minimum wage from $9.32 per hour to $15 per hour for some employees at the airport, which is run by the port, as well as others outside the airport. Her decision limited the minimum-wage increase to some hospitality workers in the city of SeaTac. Wage activists have appealed her decision to the state Supreme Court.

Several of those who spoke Tuesday were airport workers who would be directly affected if the ordinance was reinstated. Wage activists say the measure would affect about 4,700 airport workers. read more »


Federal regulators are taking a closer look at those restrictive contract provisions that force consumers to arbitrate disputes, barring them from suing a company individually or joining a class-action lawsuit.

And it doesn’t look as if officials are buying into the business world’s claim that such provisions are in consumers’ best interest.

“If you were to look in your wallet right now, the chances are high that one or more of your credit cards, debit cards or prepaid cards would be subject to a pre-dispute arbitration clause,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said recently in Dallas.

“The terms are not subject to negotiation,” he pointed out. “Like the other terms of most consumer-financial products, they are essentially ‘take it or leave it’ propositions.” read more »


There are openings on numerous Kitsap County advisory groups, boards and community councils for 2014. Citizens who are part of these groups have the opportunity to participate in and promote effective, efficient county service. Boards and councils serve as bridges of communication between citizens, their communities and county government.

The Board of County Commissioners is currently accepting applications for vacancies on the following advisory groups read more »


Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent abruptly ousted city finance director Becky Hasart last week, and said the move was made as part of restructuring the Financial Services department.

Hasart, who had held the position for three years, was informed of Lent’s decision on Dec. 19. Assistant finance director Cathy Johnson will take over as interim finance director.

In published reports on the change, Lent said Hasart had done a good job as finance director and that she would give Hasart a positive letter of recommendation, but the department needed to be reorganized. The mayor had already shifted the city’s human resources office out of the finance department and put it under the supervision of the city attorney, and said she plans to do the same with the city clerk. read more »


Just before voting to approve Bremerton’s $117 million budget for 2014, the City Council passed an amendment proposed by Leslie Daugs to withhold a $20,000 allocation of lodging tax funds that was supposed to go to Visit Kitsap Peninsula (VKP) for regionwide tourism promotion and marketing.

That move was an unwelcome surprise to some Bremerton hoteliers who collect the lodging tax, which by law is supposed to be spent on promoting “heads in beds” tourism.

Baymont Inn & Suites general manager Jack Edwards — whose hotel has a representative on Bremerton’s lodging tax advisory committee — said he didn’t know the City Council was going to consider defunding VKP, or that Daugs or other council members were dissatisfied with its marketing. read more »


GIG HARBOR — The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee will meet in January to begin discussing a planned 25-cent toll increase.

In May 2013, the Washington State Transportation Commission adopted an additional 25-cent increase for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that is planned to take effect on July 1, 2014. The new 2014 toll rate is contingent on review of updated traffic and revenue data by the Citizen Advisory Committee, which will submit its toll rate recommendation to the Washington State Transportation Commission in March.

Workshops will be held at the Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St., on the following dates read more »


New Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Friday issued an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all city employees to $15 an hour, saying he wants to move quickly.

“This is the first step in a bigger picture to make this the minimum wage citywide,” Murray said in a prepared statement.

There are many questions to be answered, including how many employees would get a raise, how much it will cost the city and when workers might get raises. Murray said the wage hike could be made retroactive to the start of 2014. read more »


More than 5,800 Kitsap residents had enrolled in the state’s health benefit exchange through November. The majority of them qualified for Medicaid — only 735 signed up for private plans, both subsidized and unsubsidized.

Kitsap reflects the statewide trend. Of the more than 179,000 enrollments, more than 159,000 are for Medicaid.

Individuals had until Dec. 23 to enroll for coverage that starts on Jan. 1. The state, however, extended the payment deadline to Jan. 15 for those who’ve tried to complete enrollment by Dec. 23 but received error messages. December enrollment figures will not be available until mid-January.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s target was 130,000 enrollments by Jan. 1, spokesperson Bethany Frey said. Not only did 179,330 people complete the registration, but another 126,000 were in process before Dec. 1. read more »

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