The Legislature’s most vocal critic of SAIF Corp. said she supports a ballot measure that would abolish the state-owned workers’ compensation insurer.
Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, said she concluded from research she has done that experts believe workplace accident prevention, and not the existence of a state insurance fund, that keeps rates low.
“The state doesn’t need to be in the business of selling insurance,” she said. “It doesn’t gain us anything.”
The campaign for the ballot initiative, known as Measure 38, is being almost totally financed by Liberty Northwest, a private insurer and SAIF’s chief competitor.
Pat McCormick, the manager of the campaign against the measure, said Walker’s claim on insurance rates is contradicted by Liberty Northwest’s longtime argument that it’s at a disadvantage because SAIF as a public agency is able to offer lower rates.
“SAIF doesn’t do anything to impede Liberty from lowering its rates,” McCormick said.
He said the demise of SAIF, the state’s biggest workers’ compensation carrier, would mean higher premiums for many employers, because they would be forced to turn to private companies for coverage.
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