NCCI Reports on Workers’ Comp Legislative Outlook

May 5, 2014

The National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI) published on April 8 its annual workers’ compensation issues report.

Included in the report is a legislative and regulatory outlook across the country. The following is a summary of some of the workers’ comp legislative and regulatory outlook for East region states.

Connecticut: NCCI said that due to the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings, it is anticipated that legislators once again will be pursuing benefits for mental trauma for employees witnessing a death or maiming during a work-related event.

A similar proposal was introduced in 2013 but in that instance, lawmakers instead created a charitable fund to help cover unreimbursed mental health-related costs of the workers affected by the shooting.

There were various people who felt that it is important to try another run at the proposal, said Peter Burton, NCCI’s senior division executive of state relations.

Delaware: A workers’ compensation task force, headed by Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, has been examining medical and indemnity costs in the state. The task force is scheduled to meet through June 2014.

Burton said the task force is looking at some form of medical cost containment.

What has become apparent to the task force, Burton said, is that the medical costs are the big cost driver in Delaware and that there should be some legislation to tackle this issue. “The medical fee schedule is something they are working on right now,” he said.

Maryland: One of the issues debated in the legislature this year was whether Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company (formerly the IWIF, the state’s competitive state fund) should be subject to the same authority and regulation as other licensed property/casualty insurers and become a full member of NCCI over time. But a proposal that sought to subject Chesapeake Employers to the same regulations as other insurers was unsuccessful.

The bill “never came out of committee, and there the bill died this year,” Burton said. “There are some who want to resurrect the bill in the 2015 legislative session that would put the new Chesapeake Employers on the same level playing field as other insurers.”

Massachusetts: The Bay State is one of the handful of states that are still under the full rate system. And once again, an industry-backed initiative to move Massachusetts to loss costs is expected this year, NCCI said.

New Hampshire: Gov. Maggie Hassan, in her State of the State address in February, called for medical cost containment reforms. The House has proposed a study commission to determine ways to cut medical costs, NCCI said.

New Jersey: The state Senate is reviewing a phased-in cost of living benefit increase for workers’ comp permanent total disability injuries, the report said.

Vermont: A task force has been established, by executive order, to review the issue of misclassification of employees. Additionally, the Department of Financial Regulation has been tasked to conduct a study of safety programs and their effect on premiums, according to the report.

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