5 Top Workers Compensation Legislative Actions in 2018
By Michael Wayne
Compliance is a major component of ensuring clients are taken care of in today’s highly regulated environment. While lawmakers and regulators continue to implement changes, insurance agents must push for efficiency and effectiveness in risk and compliance programs so that they meet regulations, applicable statutes, and expectations. On the other side of things, organizations are not always able to wait for rules to take complete effect and must plan implementations based on available guidance. Because of that, it is absolutely vital for insurance agents to make certain they are fully up-to-date with what legislative trends are shaping their states.
According to NCCI’s Regulatory and Legislative Trends Report for 2018, state legislatures are considering some 419 bills related to workers compensation this year. Nearly 20% of those bills (103) concern first responders. The remainder break down as follows:
- Court/Legal Issues: 95 Bills
- Reimbursement/Fee Schedule: 91 Bills
- Coverage Issues: 66 Bills
- Compliance: 64 Bills
Legislators in New York and Missouri introduced for consideration more than 30 bills related to workers compensation. Florida, Hawaii, and West Virginia rounded out the top five states with bills introduced. Each of the latter had 21-30 bills introduced. An additional 10 states had between 11 and 20 bills authored and considered.
Some notable bills that were ultimately enacted include:
Florida, SB 376
This senate bill revised the standards for determining compensability of employment-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under workers compensation for first responders. Additionally, the bill allows first responders that meet certain conditions to access indemnity and medical benefits for PTSD even without a physical injury accompanying the condition.
Hawaii, HB 1778
This house bill improves firefighters’ access to comprehensive medical benefits under the workers comprehension law upon diagnosis of cancer that is presumed to have originated out of and during the course of employment.
New Hampshire, SB 541 & SB 553
The first of these bills establishes presumptions of compensability under workers compensation for firefighters with cancer. The second establishes a commission to study to incidence of PTSD in first responders and whether such disorder should be covered under workers compensation.
Washington, SB 6214
This senate bill adds the presumption of coverage for PTSD as an occupational disease in certain situations for law enforcement officers and firefighters.
While it may appear that there was a wave of success when it came to PTSD coverage, seven states considered but did not pass legislation providing for such coverage for first responders: Arizona, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Only four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas—are not in session this year.
Through the first half of 2018, NCCI kept a watchful eye on more than 800 state and federal workers compensation bills. By the end of June, 76 of those bills were enacted. NCCI also tracked 197 workers compensation-related regulations during that time with 83 of them being put into practice.