DOVER — The Workers’ Compensation Task Force reconvened Friday to kick off a series of monthly meetings designed to further address the state of Delaware’s workers compensation premiums.
Four months earlier, the task force presentation an 18-point plan to reform the state’s increasing workers’ compensation. The plan was translated to legislation and signed into law in June.
“We have had some developments since we issued our report,” said Lt. Gov. Matthew Denn, the chairman of the 20-member task force.
Since 2007, the state has been working to cut back on high premium rates. Insurance legislation enacted in 2007, Senate Bill 1, included provisions to create a Health Care Advisory Panel (consisting mostly of health care personnel) to reform the payment system and develop practice guidelines for the most common workplace injuries, as well as create a Data Collections Committee. The reforms passed helped the state facilitate nearly a 40 percent decrease in rates, jumping from having the nation’s third most expensive workers compensation premiums in 2006 to the 34th most expensive by 2010, according to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary.
But, the premium rate has skyrocketed since then, rising over 40 percent in two years.
The legislation, House Bill 175, addresses the task force’s four major workers compensation concerns.
Curbing the high workers compensation medical costs was a priority, so the legislation calls for a two-year inflation freeze on the fee schedule for medical treatment of workers compensation recipients, a permanent reduction in the inflation rate allowed for hospital treatment of workers compensation recipients, and reductions in allowed reimbursements in a variety of medical categories. In addition, the lieutenant governor suggested hiring a part-time attorney to represent business during the rate- setting process as well as new system to encourage injured workers to return to work more effectively. Finally the task force advocated for improvements to the state workplace safety program.
Despite the legislation, Lt. Gov. Denn said there are still issues that could be addressed concerning the progress of the Health Care Advisory Panel as well as the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau’s 2013 rate filing.
Joseph Rhoades, a member of the Health Care Advisory Panel shared that the the group has looked at repackaging fees, reducing reimbursements as well as encouraging doctors to use generic drugs and prove the necessity for name-brand items.
“We’ve limited the number of times that drug testing can be performed,” he added.
The task for still had questions concerning the prescription and practice guidelines as well as accident claims.
To address such questions, Lt. Gov. Denn has scheduled monthly meetings to be held on the 1st Friday of every month through June 2014.
For the final report and all information from meetings, visit: http://ltgov.delaware.gov/
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