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Report highlights trends that could impact comp industry

workers comp

A new report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance found that three state trends could impact the industry moving forward: independent contractors/gig economy, single-payer health insurance and the legalization of marijuana.

Legislative proposals that would establish criteria for determining whether a worker is classified as an employee of a company, eligible for workers comp, or as an independent contractor continue to be considered. A California law establishing a test for determining worker status has spurred two states to consider similar measures this year: Rhode Island and Vermont.

Gig workers, including transportation network company drivers who work for Uber and Lyft, as well as other marketplace contractors, were the focus of legislation in several states during the 2022 legislative session, including Alabama, South Dakota, and Washington. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is expected to rule on the matter this summer.

A single-payer health system has been discussed at both federal and state levels for years. To date, no state has fully adopted such an approach; however, several jurisdictions are studying the issue. NCCI said that of particular interest are bills in California, Kansas, New York and Rhode Island that include references to workers compensation.

And while marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, states continue to legalize it through legislation and ballot measures. In 2022, five states addressed legalization with mixed results: Rhode Island passed a bill, Maryland is set to ask voters in the next election, and proposals in Delaware, Missouri and New Hampshire did not advance.

Mississippi enacted a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana, while medical marijuana legislation failed to advance in Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.

States continue to grapple with the issue of medical marijuana reimbursement in workers comp: Mississippi, Rhode Island, and South Dakota enacted legislation requiring it, and other states, including Kentucky, Maine and Nebraska, introduced legislation saying comp insurers are not required to reimburse for medical marijuana.

New Jersey and New York are considering legislation that requires comp coverage for medical marijuana under certain circumstances.