Filed Under:Markets, Workers Compensation

Workers’ Comp State Legislation Battles to Watch

The lazy, hazy days of summer are about to give way to a frenetic presidential campaign season for the most powerful political position in the world. Lost in all the hype surrounding this national political drama are hundreds of barely watched and little noticed campaigns for legislative seats in statehouses across the U.S.

These campaigns will be waged against a backdrop of a sluggish economy. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show national unemployment flatlining at around 8 percent. Economic growth, indicated by the Gross Domestic Product and reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, is hovering around 2 percent.

• Oklahoma made news as a bill moved through its legislative process that would allow employers that met certain criteria the ability to opt out of the Workers’ Comp system and become “nonsubscribers.” HB 2155, sponsored by Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, passed the House but was amended in the Senate committee before passing out of the Senate. The amendment would have required benefits provided by employers choosing to be nonsubscribers to the system to meet or exceed benefits offered by payers in the system. The House failed to concur with the Senate amendments on a closely divided vote, thus killing the bill.

Louisiana attempted to advance a number of major initiatives to reform its Workers’ Comp system. Signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal in June, HB 367 enacted language refining the medical-dispute process and the determination of medical necessity. It also created a definition for “utilization review company.” Additionally, Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Jefferson Parish, sponsored two major pieces of legislation that were ultimately held for further study. They are HB 885, which seeks to outline clear guidelines for reimbursement of repackaged and compound medications; and HB 959, which would allow employers to establish medical-provider networks.

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