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Beware of Workers’ Comp Successorship Issues

December 19, 2014

Are you considering acquiring another company’s assets, clients or employees?  If so, you must provide the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) with adequate evidence to prove acquisition of part of the business, rather than its entirety, in order to avoid acquiring its workers’ compensation experience rating, too.

Read more in a briefing co-authored by OMA workers’ compensation counsel Sue Wetzel of Bricker & Eckler LLP.

The OMA is working with the BWC right now on clarifying rules for experience and liability transfers for successors and predecessors.  Contact OMA’s Rob Brundrett for more information.

BWC Reminds Employers of Address Change

December 19, 2014

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will send payroll reports to employers starting Dec. 31, and would like to remind employers of its recent address change.

When submitting payments to BWC via mail, use this address: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, P.O. Box 89492, Cleveland, OH 44101-6492.  Express and overnight payments may be mailed to: Attn: Lockbox 89492, 5575 Venture Drive, Unit A, Parma, OH 44130.

Return envelopes that will be sent with invoices and payroll reports will include the new address.  As long as employers use the envelopes BWC sends out, they will not need to take any additional action.  If not using the envelopes provided, employers should take care to update the address in their records.

OSHA’s New Rule on Recordkeeping and Reporting Effective January 1

December 12, 2014

OMA Connections Partner, Bricker & Eckler, LLP reminds employers that beginning January 1, 2015, they must comply with new Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for recording and reporting workplace injuries.

Here is a brief alert from Bricker & Eckler.

There will be an OMA webinar, OSHA Recordkeeping, on Thursday, January 8, 2015, in which we’ll cover the new rules as well as how to record temporary worker incidents.  Register here.

House Prevents Workers’ Compensation Expansion

December 12, 2014

This week, the House voted against concurring with Senate-added amendments to HB 511.  The bill sponsor, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Township), gave a compelling floor speech to rally her House colleagues against concurrence of her bill.

The Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee added an amendment that would make peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder arising from employment – without an accompanying compensable physical injury – eligible for compensation and benefits under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Law.

Mental/mental,” as the provision is called, would go against the workers’ compensation principle that benefits must be tied to a compensable physical illness or injury.  The measure would increase complexity and cost for public employers and allow certain employees to receive benefits not available to others.  It also would have been a terrible precedent facing private sector employers.

The OMA and allies weighed in with elected officials to prevent the measure from going forward.  Thank you, Rep. Sears for your principled leadership.

Meanwhile, last evening the Senate added the mental/mental amendment to another bill, HB 412, and passed it.  It goes to the House for a concurrence vote next week.  We’ll be back to work on the issue.

$136.5 M in Fees Awarded to Lawyers Who Won BWC Settlement

December 12, 2014

The attorneys who won a $420 million settlement from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) have been awarded $136.5 million in fees, or 32.5% of the settlement, by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard McMonagle.

The fee award will be split among attorneys with two Cleveland area law firms, Garson Johnson LLC and Dworken and Bernstein Co. LPA.

Qualified employers who submitted proof of claim forms by October 22, 2014 should expect to see their refunds by February 14, 2015, according to Bricker & Eckler LLP, the appointed Special Master over the settlement fund.  Unclaimed funds will be returned to the State Insurance Fund.

New Year’s Resolution: BWC Safety Grant?

December 5, 2014

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) approved 118 safety intervention grants for Ohio employers totaling $3,499,148 in September and October.  BWC designed the Safety Intervention Grant Program to help employers reduce illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.

This BWC web page lists by month the entities approved for grants with a summary of interventions financed.

Safety intervention grants have a 3-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000.  Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices.

Learn more about the Safety Intervention Grant Program and best practices here and view the stories of previous grant recipients on BWC’s YouTube channel.

BWC Update on Transition to Prospective Premium Payment

November 21, 2014

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has prepared this one-page update about the impacts to employers as it transitions to prospective, rather than retrospective, payment of premium.

The first substantial change for employers that participate in group experience rating is that workers compensation third party administrators will file their final group rating rosters with the BWC on Monday, November 24, 2014, three months earlier than historically.

Questions?  Please contact OMA’s Scott Weisend.

BWC Guide for Injured Workers

November 14, 2014

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has produced a guide exclusively for injured workers. BWC Basics for Injured Workers is a good resource for injured workers and those learning about the system.

Don’t Miss Group Rating Deadline

November 7, 2014

Due to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) conversion to prospective payment of premium, enrollment deadlines for BWC programs have permanently changed.

If you are enrolling in a group experience rating plan, the deadline is this month.  OMA’s enrollment due date is November 14, in order to meet the BWC roster filing deadline of November 24.

If you need any extra time to submit your OMA group experience rating enrollment, contact Scott Weisend.

If you miss the deadline, don’t panic; ask us about our competitive group retrospective rating program!

New BWC Rule Allows for Immediate Fill of Necessary Medications

October 31, 2014

A new rule approved last week by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors will ensure that newly injured workers receive necessary medications while the future of their claims is being determined.

The “first fill” rule will apply to new injuries and allows for immediate fill of prescriptions for acute injury medications prior to formal claim approval.  A 1955 statute previously restricted BWC from allowing this change, but recent legislation proposed by BWC allowed for the newly approved first fill rule to develop.

The rule details the circumstances under which BWC will pay pharmacies for the first fill of prescription drugs before BWC issues initial claim determination orders.  In cases where the first fill rule is used, but the claim is ultimately denied by BWC, the medication payment will be charged to BWC’s surplus fund account and not to the employer associated with the disallowed claim.

If approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, this sensible rule is expected to become effective February 1, 2015.