Thursday, May 2, 2013

Work Comp Legislation Active Across the Country

Workers' compensation is a product of legislative action.

And legislatures across the country have been active this year, and this was particularly noticeable to me as I read the news this morning about all of the activity around the country.

Yesterday I noted that Alabama's proposed thorough work comp reform legislation failed to make it out of committee, though that doesn't mean it won't resurface next year.

In California, several work comp related bills were put in the suspense file pending further analysis - AB 638 by Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would allow expedited hearings to determine whether an injury arose out of and in the course of employment when the injured worker has not hired an attorney and the employer is illegally uninsured. AB 454 by Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would say a worker injured on a prevailing wage project should receive workers’ compensation benefits calculated using the prevailing wage rate, not the wages actually paid to the worker.

Florida legislators are fighting over different approaches to bills that would expand the use and funding of the state's 19-month-old prescription drug-monitoring program, amid warnings from supporters of the database that both time and money are running out.

In addition, the Florida House and Senate have approved legislation sought by insurance regulators that will allow creation of a new database designed to crack down on construction subcontractors that skirt workers' compensation laws by laundering their payrolls through check-cashing houses. That bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.

And the Florida House voted 115-0 on Wednesday to approve a Senate compromise version of the proposed cap on the price of repackaged drugs in the workers' compensation system and sent the measure to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

The Minnesota Workers' Compensation Advisory Council's legislative proposal motivated State Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-St. Paul, to amend House Bill 1359 to reflect the Council's recommendation to cap the services of a vocational rehabilitation counselor at 20 hours a month per claimant. After three months, regulators could review the claimant's progress and extend the vocational rehabilitation services to six months, if necessary.

In Missouri, the state House of Representatives has scheduled two bills that impact the state's workers' comp system for potential floor votes in the immediate future: SB 1 would restore the state's Second Injury Fund by increasing the surcharge on workers' compensation premiums to 4.5% for the next two years and as high as 6% in the future; SB 34 would require the Division of Workers' Compensation to create and maintain a claims information database.

During the next few weeks, the Illinois House Insurance Committee will examine a bill that would allow the Department of Insurance to fine government self-insurance pools that fail to submit solvency reports.

New York Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky has approved a change in the split point used by the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board to determine experience modifications in the workers' compensation system.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is being urged to sign House Bill 1320, which would install a hospital fee schedule with reimbursements set at 200% of Medicare.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that would allow property and casualty insurers to post policies online and send a link to policyholders, rather than sending a hard copy of the policy (in addition to signing into law earlier this year a bill restricting jurisdiction on professional sports athletes' claims).

Phew - and that's just one day in the news.

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