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Feb
16

Latest news on State WC initiatives

The recent changes in WC laws in California appear to be just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, as several additional states are seriously considering changing their regulations, rate-making process, managed care programs, or all of the above. Here is a summary of recent news.
Texas
According to Insurance Journal, legislation has been proposed that would have major implications for Texas Workers Compensation, including abolishing the Texas Workers’ Comp Commission.
“State Rep. Burt Solomons (Carrollton) recently filed a bill that would make major changes to the workers’ compensation system in Texas. According to an announcement released by the House of Representatives, House Bill 7 abolishes the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (TWCC) and focuses on four main system improvements: streamlining the regulatory process by moving regulatory functions to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), allowing workers’ compensation networks, applying group health laws and rules to the workers’ compensation system, and focusing the entire system back on the injured worker.”
Ohio
While the OHP regs in Ohio were touted as leading edge, innovative, and a model for the rest of the country, these claims were, at the very least, overblown. The OHP program was not terribly innovative and, if anything, represented a me-too approach. Now, James Conrad, Administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Comp, has proposed new legislation that has rather broad, if somewhat minor, implications for WC in the state. Here is a summary from Business First:
“The bureau is proposing more than 30 changes to workers’ comp law. The changes range from allowing people with traumatic brain injuries to earn minimal income without jeopardizing their disability benefits, to prohibiting doctors and other medical providers who treat injured workers from paying or receiving kickbacks for referral of services.”
Rhode Island
Twenty insurers licensed to sell Workers Comp in Rhode Island (free registration required) have notified the state that they will adopt NCCI’s revised rate guidelines, potentially lowering premiums on average by 20%. However, Beacon Mutual, with 75% of the state’s WC market, is not in favor or the move, claiming that it has already factored in the better performance of the WC market through “merit-based premium reductions”.
South Carolina
A bill has been introduced that would deny WC benefits to workers who failed to follow posted safety instructions and were injured on the job. Don’t look for this to succeed


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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