Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Monday the state budget, which includes workers' compensation reforms that provide cost savings for businesses and better protections for injured workers. New York has the third-highest workers' compensation costs in the nation.
Some of the employer savings include establishing more definitive limits on caps and updating medical guidelines to reflect advances in modern medicine. The changes include the capping classification for permanent partial disability for the maximum medical improvement at 2.5 years after the date of injury through the creation of a credit to employers and a panel that will study independent medical examinations. The budget creates an advisory committee to recommend new guidelines for evaluating permanent injuries to limbs. It was argued that technological advances make it easier to work with a disability. It also calls for a prescription drug formulary (see second story!).
PROTECTIONS FOR INJURED WORKERS
Injured workers will benefit from a number of workers' compensation changes. Reforms ensure swift access to hearings for injured workers not receiving benefits by allowing claimants to request a hearing if their claim isn't denied or had any action within 45 days, they also ensure that the most significantly injured workers have the right to be considered for lifetime benefits and provide relief for first responders exposed to a traumatic event at work.
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
We'll keep watch over the implementation and development of these reforms.
The New York budget bill calls for the implementation of a comprehensive drug formulary by Dec. 31, 2017. The American Insurance Association stated a formulary can help address the problem of opioid use and abuse, which unfortunately remains one of the most pressing issues facing workers' compensation systems nationwide, including in New York.
Two Louisiana House members proposed two different workers' compensation closed drug formulary bills. Rep. Kirk Talbot proposed H.B. 592, which calls for a drug formulary based on the most recent version of the Work Loss Data Institute's Official Disability Guidelines. However, Rep. Chris Broadwater proposed H.B. 529, which calls for the creation of a workers' compensation drug formulary. We'll see how these opposing views progress.
Making Our Way Around The Country
The Oregon Senate introduced S.B. 1046, a bill to develop a single payer health care system. In a recent RAND study assessing different options for financing health care in Oregon, single-payer and universal coverage are deemed the most promising options. The Senate Committee on Health Care scheduled a hearing on April 20 to discuss the bill and the RAND study.
A proposed workers' compensation bill, A.B. 1697, would create an anti-fraud division within the California Division of Workers' Compensation. The Fraud Division would aggressively pursue all reported incidents of probable workers' compensation fraud. The Assembly Insurance Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on April 19.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance approved the National Council on Compensation Insurance's proposed premium decrease of 4.3%. The Bureau of Insurance stated that a decrease in workers' compensation loss costs will result in more than $9 million in savings for businesses and result in a cumulative decrease of 53.6% since 1992. The new NCCI rates go into effect as of April 1, 2017.
Don't forget - we'd love to see you in the Exhibit Hall at RIMS. Please make your way to GB Booth #2527 and to the RIMS Advocacy Center at Booth #1657, where we will be pitching the RIMS federal agenda and batting around the critical legislative and regulatory issues affecting our industry.
To all who celebrate the holidays - Happy Passover and Happy Easter.
About The Way
The Way is Gallagher Bassett's weekly governmental briefing on state and federal affairs that affect our industry. We thank you for starting your Wednesday morning with us. Please be sure to follow #GBTheWay for additional news and updates as we make our way throughout the country on the issues affecting our industry. For more information, please connect with GB on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, or contact the authors, Greg McKenna or Cari Miller, directly.