New York: Governor says reforms continue to yield results, speed resolution process
The governor said the New York State Insurance Department's recently issued 2009 Workers' Compensation Data Report showed that key goals of the 2007 Workers' Compensation Reform Act continue to be achieved.
"These reforms make New York state a better place to do business, which is critical at a time when everyone is suffering because of our economic crisis," Paterson said. "The state must do everything in its power to protect our workers and businesses. This report details the significant advances we have made. Benefits to injured workers have increased, costs for businesses have decreased, fraud is being eliminated, and injured workers with disputed claims are getting benefits faster."
The data report, the second issued since the passage of the reform legislation, is required by state law to measure progress in implementing the act.
Among the highlights of the study, researchers found:
- Benefits have increased. According to the report, 57 percent of claimants injured after July 1, 2007, received higher awards due to the increase in maximum weekly benefits from $400 to $500. Benefit awards are based on a formula that takes into account an injured worker's preinjury wage and, in some cases, postinjury earning capacity.
- Disputed claims are being resolved faster. Paterson noted a strong progress in implementing a streamlined process designed to accelerate the resolution of disputed claims.
"Our new processes to resolve disputed claims are working, and these claimants are getting needed benefits faster," he said.
The report indicated that the streamlined process led to a 42 percent reduction in pending controverted claims between April 1, 2008, and Jan. 1, 2009. For the past six months, 85 percent of disputed claims have been resolved in less than 90 days from the point of dispute. Paterson said resolving controverted claims in less than 90 days was a goal of the workers' comp reform process.
- Administrative review process has improved. The report found significant improvements in the New York State Workers' Compensation Board's administrative review process. As of Feb. 1, only 9 percent of claims awaiting an administrative review were more than six months old, compared to more than 22 percent of claims in March 2008.
- Fraud prevention efforts are stronger. The report stated that increased cooperation and data sharing between the WCB Office of the Inspector General and other agencies has led to decreased duplication of services and stronger fraud prevention. Since June 2008, the WCB has issued approximately 200 stop work orders per month against employers failing to comply with workers' comp coverage requirements.
- Comp rates continue to fall. Workers' comp rates have fallen considerably since October 2007, resulting in a drop in employer costs by 20.5 percent. Employers saw another 5 percent average rate decrease in October 2008.
March 30, 2009
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