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Insurance group finds lackluster support for comp law

Posted On: Aug. 1, 2016 12:00 AM CST

Following an investigation of workers compensation opt-out programs, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators found there's not enough support to propose a model law.

NCOIL's Workers' Compensation Insurance Committee, which voted in November to investigate opt-out programs, examined the alternative to state workers comp systems at its February and July meetings this year.

“There was a productive discussion where all sides were heard,” said Paul Penna, the Manasquan, New Jersey-based organization's executive director. “It was the consensus of the committee that this issue does not have the support for a model law. Unless something changes, we do not anticipate it being on the agenda for the next NCOIL meeting.”

According to the minutes from NCOIL's July meeting in Portland, Oregon, released on Monday, attendees spoke about the pros and cons of programs like the Oklahoma Employee Injury Benefit Act passed in 2013. Similar bills, based on Texas' 100-year-old nonsubscription system, have also been filed in Tennessee and South Carolina.

During the meeting, Gregory Krohm, director of research for Richmond, Virginia-based consulting firm Workcomp Strategies L.L.C., detailed several advantages of opt out for employers, including having control over the claims process and the internal appeals process for benefit denials, and defining conditions in terms of converge, meeting minutes state.

Frank O'Brien, Boston-based vice president of state government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said during the meeting that employers can save money under opt-out programs, but costs typically shift to the state safety net, according to the minutes. He added that many states are dealing with budget issues as is.

Ronald Jackson, Atlanta-based vice president of state affairs for the southeast region at the American Insurance Association, was among attendees who said NCOIL should not pursue an opt-out model, according to the minutes.