News and Analysis
October 31 is Next BWC Drug Free Safety Program Enrollment
Learn the benefits that becoming a drug free workplace, and enrolling in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Drug Free Safety Program (DFSP) program, can bring to your workplace. OMA Connections Partner, Working Partners® is offering no-charge webinars in time for you to make a decision prior to the BWC’s next enrollment deadline, October 31.
Supreme Court Decides a Six-Year Period to Assert Certain Subrogation Claims
On September 7, 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision written by Justice Cupp in Ohio Bur. of Workers’ Comp. v. McKinley. In its syllabus, the Court stated:
“A claim brought by a statutory subrogee pursuant to recover its subrogation interest is a claim “upon a liability created by statute” and is therefore subject to the six-year statute of limitations of R.C. 2305.7.”
This decision extends the period of time that statutory subrogees, which includes self-insuring manufacturers, have to assert claims for benefits paid to injured workers, whose injuries were caused by third-party tortfeasors.
OMA Counsel, Tom Sant, of Bricker & Eckler LLP summarized, “That is a good thing particularly in situations … where the injured worker and third party tortfeasor settled the case without paying the statutory subrogee. Because the self-insured manufacturer receives dollar for dollar reimbursement to the extent that payment is available, the advantage it has is more beneficial than to the state fund employer, which receives only partial benefits when the BWC collects from the injured worker and/or the third party tortfeasor.”
Read Sant’s summary of the case.
OMA Supports BWC Proposed Regulation of Self-Insured PEOs
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is developing policy regarding financial assessments and security requirements for the state’s self-insured professional employer organizations (PEOs). While there are fewer than ten self-insured PEOs in the Ohio workers’ comp system, it is important that the security requirements imposed on them are commensurate with those imposed on the entire community of self-insured employers.
OMA has gone on record with the BWC that it supports this development of fair policy for the protection and prudent administration of the Self-Insuring Employers Guaranty Fund.
BWC Administrator Asks TPAs to Hold Offers, Wants Time to Study Programs and Discounts
In a letter this week to workers’ compensation third party administrators (TPAs) and associations that sponsor Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) programs, BWC administrator Steve Buehrer asked for a moratorium on marketing specific discounts to potential group rating clients for the 2012/13 policy year. He indicated “that we (BWC) will not be bringing forward a recommendation on credibility levels and break-even factors for 60-90 days.”
Buehrer explained that the BWC will use this 60 to 90 day timeframe to “work to develop a comprehensive pricing package that looks at all programs and considers modifications to incentives, requirements, and compatibility.”
In addition to potentially modifying the specific factors that are used to calculate program discounts, such as credibility levels and break-even factors, the administrator also hinted that there may be additional program or product offerings: “…we should restructure both existing employer programs and evaluate potential new options to encourage the right behaviors, promote participation in multiple programs, and measure our collective efforts…”
As there is no ban on TPAs to solicit AC3 applications for group rating proposals to be issued later, employers will likely see continued solicitations. We will keep members informed of BWC program impacts and opportunities in ongoing OMA communications.
Offers received before the moratorium is lifted, and final BWC rules are issued, should be ignored.
When Workers’ Compensation and Disabilities Laws Collide
The legal worlds of workers’ compensation law and the laws against disability discrimination sometimes collide and leave employers with difficult decisions about how to comply with each. A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit serves as a cautionary tale to employers that impose work restrictions upon an employee based on what they perceive their responsibilities to be under a workers’ compensation order. Read more in this Bricker & Eckler Human Resources Bulletin. From OMA Connections Partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP.
OMA Expresses Concerns with Proposed BWC Discount Program
The OMA communicated concerns with a proposed new premium discount program of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). The “Grow Ohio Incentive Program” would provide a two-year 25% premium discount to employers new to Ohio. While the aim of the program is laudable, encouraging economic growth, the proposal is unfair to Ohio’s existing employers.
In a letter to the BWC, OMA Managing Director for Workers’ Compensation Services Denny Davis wrote: “This new program would require subsidization of new employers’ premiums by employers already operating in the state. We oppose any program that forces one group of Ohio businesses to pay inflated premiums to offset the cost of unearned discounts given to another class of Ohio businesses. This circumstance is most concerning, of course, when a company is forced by the government to subsidize a competitor.”
Davis also expressed concerns about potential unintended consequences and operational complexity within the rule’s provisions.
BWC Plans Discount Program to Benefit New Ohio Employers
Following the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) actuarial committee meeting this week where the idea was presented, BWC issued a release indicating about its proposed “economic development initiative” that would discount a new Ohio employer’s premium by as much as 51 percent.
If approved by the BWC Board of Directors on September 29, “Grow Ohio” would offer eligible employers a 25 percent discount on their workers’ compensation premiums for two years, or give them immediate access to participation in the group experience rating program.
If approved, the incentives will apply to new business entities or out-of-state businesses that are new to Ohio and report payroll in Ohio on or after July 1, 2011.
Actuarially, this new program will require existing Ohio companies to subsidize the premium of new-to-Ohio companies. The OMA will express concerns to the BWC about the equity of such a circumstance.
Hot Enough for You?
OSHA urges employers to have a heat illness plan and communicate it to workers who may be exposed to the heat. Heat illness and death are preventable and resources are available.
BWC Administrator Sets Priorities, Assigns Workgroups
In a press release issued by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), we learned that Administrator Steve Buehrer has “identified three primary areas improvement: reducing medical and indemnity costs that are outpacing national averages, reducing recent increases in the time it takes workers to return to work, and reducing the total length of time spent paying claims, in which Ohio ranks worst in the nation. To address the root cause of these issues, Buehrer has established five workgroups on Triaging Claims, Medical Management, Drug Utilization, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Settlements.”
And, “In the coming months, Buehrer expects to prioritize a list of changes requiring legislative action and is compiling data to help answer questions surrounding issues such as benefits structure, marketplace competition and the appellate process.”
The BWC and the OMA are engaged in discussions about legislative priorities. To follow this issue, log on to MY OMA and subscribe to OMA’s Safety & Workers’ Compensation committee.
BWC Administrator Names Two Top Managers
This week, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steven Buehrer announced the appointment of two professionals to leadership roles. Dale Hamilton will serve as Chief Operating Officer and Kevin Abrams will head BWC’s Employer Services Division. Both managers have previous experience in the Ohio BWC system.