H.B. 334 would enact major reforms to the system as of July 1. It incorporates changes proposed by a labor-management advisory panel established in 2006.
Among the legislative reforms to the workers' comp system are:
- Adoption of Utilization and Treatment Guidelines. It would require an impairment rating of at least Class 2, or moderate, rather than mild in order to receive permanent partial disability wage loss benefits.
- A closure date of five years from the date of injury or diagnosis for benefits on permanent partial disability. Cases could be reopened for continued services every two years by approval of a medical panel.
- Implementation of a return-to-work/stay-at-work program that encourages businesses to bring employees back to the job quickly.
- Voluntary settlement of claims.
- Choice of physician.
- Locks medical provider rates at 2010 levels.
- Prohibits claims in cases where employees are on breaks off the premises.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance has reportedly said the bill would reduce premiums by up to 24 percent this year with an additional 15 percent over the next two to four years. Supporters say it would generate up to $160 million in savings.
Meanwhile, employers may get some good news. NCCI filed for a 5.6 percent rate reduction, effective July 1.
State Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen said workers' comp claims have decreased by more than 5 percent in the past year. She said the filing does not reflect any provisions in the legislation and that NCCI would prepare a revised filing if the governor signs the measure.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 28, 2011
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