Former Hurricane Ophelia became the first storm to reach Category 3 strength so far east and is the tenth hurricane to form in the Atlantic this year. Hurricane Ophelia was downgraded to a tropical storm right before it slammed into Ireland earlier this week. It was the strongest storm to hit Ireland in 50 years. The storm left nearly 400,000 homes and businesses without power in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
This is the first time since 1893 that the Atlantic has seen 10 storms strengthen to a hurricane in a row. What's unusual for Ophelia is the strength and size so far north and east. Climate scientists predict that rising ocean temperatures could potentially expand the range of dangerous storms across the globe.
UPDATE - CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES
As the wildfires continue to burn, a state senator estimated that the wildfires have caused $3 billionin commercial and residential damage. Although investigators are still determining the cause of the wildfires, a review of the sources of California wildfires for the last several years determined that electrical power problems ranked among the top causes. The wildfires have killed at least 40 people, destroyed 5,700 buildings, and burned 217,000 acres. Dozens of people are still reported missing.
UPDATE - PUERTO RICO
Hurricane Maria could cost Puerto Rico up to $95 billion in damage. Gov. Ricardo Rosello stated that power should be restored to 30% of the island by the end of the month. He believes that 95% of residents should have power by Dec. 15. Currently 40% of people are without running water. 2017 is on track to be a record-setting year for massive natural disasters in the U.S.
ACROSS STATE LINES
Eleven states are looking to overhaul their occupational licensing laws, the regulations that require people to be registered with a state before they are allowed to work in a particular field. The states are getting together in December and will focus on professions that don't require college degrees but are regulated in more than 30 states. The group received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor to help them review how to reduce unnecessary burdens and increase the portability of licenses from state to state.
The Association of Claims Professionals (ACP) continues to work for uniformity and reciprocity for independent claims professionals across state lines. However, a complex array of state laws and regulations on licensing claims professionals cause barriers across state lines. The CLAIM Actworks to reduce licensing burdens and create uniformity while protecting the consumer. We're proud to be working on this effort.
Making Our Way Around The Country
State lawmakers are looking for co-sponsors to reform the state's workers' compensation system and create an evidence-based drug formulary after an investigation into the prescribing patterns in Philadelphia. Introduced early this year, H.B. 18 would require Pennsylvania to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for workers' compensation programs. Rep. MacKenzie introduced the bill to reduce the over-prescription of opioids. Pennsylvania was ranked to have the third highest number of opioids prescribed per injured worker in a 25-state study.
The Kansas Insurance Department announced that workers' compensation rates will decrease in 2018. The workers' compensation rate filing shows a decrease of 7.6% in the voluntary base rate and a decrease of 5.8% for assigned risk workers' compensation rates. The decrease will affect many of the approximately 65,000 Kansas businesses that pay workers' compensation insurance. In Kansas, 65% of the workers' compensation benefit distribution goes to pay medical claims and 35% goes to indemnity claims.
As many as you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 250,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year. And although rare, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well. Proud of our hometown Chicago Bears supporting awareness versus the Panthers this weekend.
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.