October 9, 1996 in Nation/World

Summit Site Proposed As Location Of New Convention Complex, Hotel

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revi

A move is afoot to install the Pacific Science Center in the existing Spokane Convention Center, erect a vast new convention complex across the river, and build a grand hotel to go along with it.

The concept is being pitched by Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. to the Sports, Entertainment, Arts and Convention Advisory Board (SEACAB).

Mike Kobluk, city entertainment facilities director, says it is “one of a number of potential options” that will be explored in studies to expand the convention center or build new someplace else.

“The Spokane Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has done such a superb job that we are fast running out of space,” says SEACAB member and Spokane advertising executive Ed Clark. “Metropolitan’s proposal has definite possibilities.”

As envisioned, the new convention center and hotel would be the cornerstone of Metropolitan’s stalled Summit project. Plans call for an “urban village” mix of uses from dwellings and businesses to retail shops and government offices. The 90-acre tract stretches west from the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge for about a mile along an abandoned old railroad right of way.

The view of the downtown riverfront and the scenic lower falls is unsurpassed. For decades, different owners and developers have sought to erect a big new hotel there overlooking the bridge.

Goodspeed joins Packet Engines

Nancy Goodspeed, vice president and general manager of the Spokane office of The Rockey Co., has resigned to become manager of marketing communications for Packet Engines Inc.

Rockey is a widely renowned old-line regional public relations firm headquartered in Seattle. Packet Engines is a high-tech gigabite Ethernet start-up venture located in the Spokane Valley.

Goodspeed is a former news anchor and reporter at KHQ-TV. She subsequently become executive director of Leadership Spokane. Goodspeed joined Rockey in 1994.

In her new job, she will be manager of marketing communications for Packet Engines Inc.

Board urges health insurance reforms

Washington health care insurers who lose money covering individual policyholders and the individual policyholders as well may both get relief from spiraling costs.

That’s the intent of a recommendation being hammered out by the Washington Health Care Policy Board which calls for creation by the 1997 state Legislature of a community high-risk fund.

Under this approach, all health insurers would be assessed a share of the cost of providing individual coverage, whether they sell to individuals or not. The aim is to stabilize costs for individuals and for carriers who serve individuals.

This is the foremost insurance issue facing the upcoming legislative session, Sue Crystal, chair of the Health Care Policy Board, told me. “If we can’t find a way to solve this dilemma,” she warns, “we may lose the rest of the health reforms that we value so much in this state.”

The fund would reimburse insurance companies for losses beyond a defined level for covering individuals already sick who used to be excluded from the insurance market. About 6 percent of Washington’s population - or 350,000 residents - who work for themselves or for employers who don’t offer them health insurance are forced to buy individual health coverage for their families in the open market.

In this group, the Washington Health Care Policy Board estimates, are at least 28,000 new policyholders who secured coverage as a direct result of state reforms enacted three years ago. Under reform, insurers can no longer deny coverage because of ill health or so-called “pre-existing conditions.”

But it costs more to serve the sick than the healthy and the policy board’s analysts say the medical bills of individuals who secured coverage as a result of reform run an average of five times as much as the bills of those previously insured in the individual market. As a result, insurers pay an average of one-fifth more in claims on individual policies overall than they collect in premiums.

But the policy-making board’s staff analyst on this project, Tom Ansart, says not all insurers like the community high-risk fund approach as proposed. “Some of our insurers call it a gem of an idea,” said the analyst. “Others say it’s the germ of an idea which needs more work on it. But some say it’s altogether unworkable and they would pay more into the fund than they would get back.”

If this approach isn’t acceptable, some other “mechanism of reinsurance” will have to be adopted, says Crystal. “There simply has to be some way,” says the health policy board’s chairman, “of redistributing costs fairly.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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