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Delaware governor signs comp reform bill


DOVER, Del.--Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has signed into law the state's first comprehensive workers compensation reform legislation since the system was set up in the early 1990s.

The measure, which passed the Legislature Wednesday and was signed by the governor Thursday, directs that a new workers compensation rating plan be filed with the insurance commissioner that will lower the state's rates from being third-highest in the nation to somewhere between the 22nd and the 28th. It also establishes a new medical payment system and practice guidelines.

Among other things, the new law provides for creation of a new workers compensation medical payment system developed by a new Health Care Advisory Panel and later adopted as a regulation of the state Department of Labor.

The system will include schedules setting the maximum acceptable charges for professional services, hospital services, independent treatment centers, laboratories and pharmaceuticals. The schedules will be adjusted annually based on increases in the Consumer Price Index. The schedules also will be published on the Internet.

The bill will "result in estimated savings of 20% or more," Gov. Minner said in her State of the State address to the Assembly on Thursday. "As I have said before, this reform is critical to our competitiveness and will help us to retain and attract businesses to our state."