Kentucky to Revamp Workers’ Comp System

Kentucky will make the biggest changes to its workers’ compensation system in decades.

The legislation – backed by business groups but opposed by organized labor groups – was passed by both the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 30.

It has been more than 20 years since the workers’ compensation system underwent significant change.

“House Bill 2 is designed to help contain underlying costs and improve the state’s workers’ compensation system,” said Jeffrey Junkas, assistant vice president, state government relations for PCI. “HB 2 makes changes impacting medical expenses and benefits. It also takes steps to address the opioid crisis with an evidence-based pharmaceutical formulary and medical treatment guidelines to ensure timely delivery of appropriate medical care to injured workers.”

Additionally, the bill increases the maximum compensation rates for employee temporary total disability, permanent total disability, and permanent partial disability benefits, improves access to vocational rehabilitation services and makes improvements in the dispute resolution system.

The new 15-year benefit cap from the date of injury applies to certain workers filing claims for permanent, partial disability because of on-the-job injuries. The bill would allow those injured workers to make recertification filings that, if approved, would let them continue receiving benefits.

According to The Associated Press, Senate President Robert Stivers – a Manchester Republican said the bill would promote a “very fair process.”

“It does things for … the injured worker and it gives certainty to the industry for what their costs and liabilities would be,” he said.

Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones denounced the bill as “anti-worker.” He said the recertification process puts the burden on injured workers to show they need to keep receiving medical benefits.

Opponents also said there’s no justification for the changes because workers’ comp premiums have been dropping.