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New York governor introduces workers compensation reforms

New York governor introduces workers compensation reforms

Workers compensation reforms introduced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo include plans to help the state's employers by selling bonds to finance claims costs left by about 30 failed group self-insured trusts.

The announcement came Wednesday as part of the governor's 2013 State of the State report, which says the governor's plan to reform workers comp and unemployment insurance through legislation will produce $1.3 billion in savings for employers.

The governor's call for new reforms drew applause from the Des Plaines, Ill.-based Property Casualty Insurers Association of America for making workers comp reform a continuing priority.

“Gov. Cuomo has shown, both through ensuring the full implementation of the 2007 workers compensation reforms and through his continuing efforts to ensure that workers compensation works both for the employer and the worker, that he clearly 'gets it,' that bringing down workers compensation costs is critical to bringing jobs to New York and continuing New York's economic recovery,” PCI said in a statement.

The proposed reforms call for combining several state assessments that pay for operating New York's workers comp system and closing funds the governor called unnecessary.

“For example, the legislation would close the fund for reopened cases to generate an immediate annual assessment savings to New York state employers of approximately $300 million,” the report states.

The governor also said that his plan to sell bonds would help about 10,000 self-insured employers who were left with liabilities after the group self-insured trusts failed beginning in 2006. Nearly 4,000 related workers comp claims remain open, with liabilities totaling nearly $900 million, according to a June 29, 2012, report by the New York Workers' Compensation Board.

“Proceeds of the bond sale will go to purchase assumption of liability policies for claims associated with defaulted GSITs,” the report says. “The state can then offer much more flexible repayment plans that will ultimately result in settlement and release for insolvent GSIT members.”