Tag Archives: Workers’ Compensation

AMA reclassifies obesity for workers’ comp

Workers’ compensation costs for employers could rise steeply as a result of a decision by the American Medical Association to reclassify obesity as a treatable disease.

A report by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI), says that paid losses on claims with the obesity co-morbidity averaged $116,437, or 81.3 percent more than those without; and that these claims averaged nearly 35 weeks of lost time, or 80 percent more than the 19-week average for claims without the obesity co-morbidity.

Obesity has historically been classified as a co-morbidity.  The change could lead to increased claims that include obesity as a co-morbidity and as a compensable consequence of injury.

Crain’s Op-ed: Fixing workers’ comp

Crain's New York Business logoThe following op-ed was posted by Crain’s New York Business. It zeros in on the high cost of New York’s workers’ compensation system. The op-ed mentions The Business Council’s advocacy efforts to improve that system – efforts that are bearing some fruit.

Crains: Corruption, campaign finance reform and fracking may be hot topics in Albany, but rank-and-file businesses across the state are more concerned about a less sensational subject: workers’ compensation. While it’s not an issue that propels political careers, New York’s system costs a whopping $6 billion a year. Surveys show only health insurance to be a greater worry for business owners.

Workers’ compensation reform happens rarely in New York because powerful vested interests—notably the plaintiff bar—are adept at maintaining what, for them, is a lucrative status quo. Aside from some key changes won by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this year’s budget, the last significant fix was in the early days of the Spitzer administration. That 2007 change broadened the distribution of money, the vast majority of which had been going to a small fraction of workers injured on the job. But the savings that businesses were projected to realize have been overwhelmed by rising costs that were ignored or even abetted by the Spitzer reform.

With three weeks remaining in the 2013 session, there is little hope that legislators will make any more improvements this year. In fact, the business lobby is currently occupied—as it often is—with blocking bills that would make the system worse. The trial lawyers’ lobby knows its best defense is a good offense, so it pushes poisonous bills that consume the business community’s attention and resources.

Meanwhile, the Cuomo administration has shifted its efforts to improvements it can make administratively. In fact, it implemented one just last week: The Workers’ Compensation Board, after seven months of intensive advocacy by the Business Council of New York State, declared that injured employees can be assumed to have reached “maximum medical improvement” after two years. Even though the healing process for nearly all injuries rarely exceeds eight months, businesses hailed the new policy as a victory because lawyers had been dragging out cases, allowing their “still healing” clients to milk the system for six years of interim payments before starting the 10-year compensation clock established by the 2007 reform.

But many similar quirks remain unaddressed, notably the outdated schedules that dictate how long workers are paid for a given injury. Thanks to advances in medical care, ailments that once persisted for months or years are now fixed in a fraction of that time—yet the gravy train of yesteryear rolls on. That should be addressed this year by Mr. Cuomo, and next year he must press the Assembly again for reforms it denied him in March. The quest for a fair and rational workers’ compensation system continues.

[NOTE: As New York’s employers continue to struggle under the growing costs of the Workers’ Comp system, The Business Council is uniquely poised to make a significant positive impact to the system.  Not only is The Business Council the recognized representative of New York’s businesses by the Administration and the Board, through very regular communication, the Legislature has added our participation in the process into law.]

Insurance Journal: NYCIRB Examines N.Y.’s Proposed Workers’ Comp Reform Bills

The Insurance Journal reports that The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board (NYCIRB) recently reviewed the impact of workers’ compensation reform proposals in New York State determining they should save employers money overall.  Part O of S.2605 /A.3005 would reform several elements of the workers’ compensation system. The NYCIRB’s full analysis can be found on the association’s website (a PDF file).

Read the full Insurance Journal article here. 

NY takes on workers’ comp costs

Reducing Premiums Among Business-Friendly Items on Cuomo Agenda— But so is Raising Minimum Wage

Reducing workers’ compensation costs for business and reforming the state’s Unemployment Insurance system is one of the key concerns in The Business Council’s 2013 Fix New York Legislative agenda.

“The pro-growth momentum we saw in 2011 and 2012 needs to continue for New York to regain its economic strength,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council. “In 2013, The Business Council will support legislation that controls state spending while avoiding new taxes; reform labor laws and other regulatory programs that impose unnecessary costs and restrictions on all employers; and promote new jobs and investments in a range of strategically important business sectors.” Click here for a complete look at The Business Council’s 2013 Fix New York Legislative agenda.

Adam Sichko filed the following report for The Business Review:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told employers this month that he wants them to pay their minimum-wage workers 20 percent more. He said he wants to waive taxes for start-ups in incubators, bankroll clean-energy development, extend the school day and spur bridge and road repairs.

On Jan. 22, Cuomo will publish his budget proposal, revealing just how he’d pay for that lengthy list—and whether he’ll need to increase taxes and fees on businesses to do it.

What’s most encouraging to business lobbies is Cuomo’s pledge to tackle two of the thorniest issues feeding New York’s anti-business reputation.

One is workers’ compensation costs. The other is the state’s bankrupt fund for paying unemployment benefits, which is supported solely by taxes on businesses.

Click here to read more.