The Workers’ Comp News Digest is a monthly news clipping service provided by the Insurance Council of Texas to our members. Your January 2019 news digest follows:

Texas News
January 30 – WorkCompCentral reported that seven workers’ compensation bills have begun making their way through committees of the Texas Legislature, including one that would make workers' compensation mandatory for some construction contractors, a bill that provides for the reimbursement medical causation narrative reports, and others that would loosen some rules on medical providers. (Purchase of Article or Subscription Required)

January 29 – Commissioner of Insurance Kent Sullivan announced that he will consider staff's recommendation to reduce the workers' compensation classification relativities by 15 percent. Staff recommends that the revised relativities be required for all policies with an effective date on or after July 1, 2019, unless the insurer files an alternative rate basis. The reduction of the relativities by 15% would mark a 44% cumulative decrease since 2011.
January 22 – TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) reported that a Houston company pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation premium fraud in a case that spanned four years. The company was ordered to pay $250,000 to the workers’ compensation carrier. 
January 18 – DWC announced free webinars covering administrative processes related to providing health care to Texas workers’ compensation injured employees. Webinar topics include an overview of workers’ compensation, health care provider roles and responsibilities, intake and verification of coverage, utilization review, medical bill processing, medical bill denials and dispute resolution, return to work, maximum medical improvement and impairment rating billing, and certified workers’ compensation health care networks.
January 11 – DWC announced that Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Cassie Brown had approved the Medical Quality Review CY 2019 Annual Audit Plan.
January 9 – DWC announced the adoption of amendments to Rules 180.8, Notices of Violation; Notices of Hearing; Default Judgments and 180.26, Criteria for Imposing, Recommending and
Determining Sanctions; Other Remedies. The rule amendments implement SB 1895 which requires the DWC to communicate to the subject of an enforcement action the relevant statute or rule violated, the conduct that gave rise to the violation, and the factors considered in determining the penalty.
January 7 – DWC announced the adoption of amendments to Rule 148.17, Special Provisions for Sanctions. The amendments align the rule with changes made by HB 1456 which deleted the requirement that, when an administrative penalty is assessed, a person must pay the penalty or post a bond while seeking judicial review of the administrative decision.
National News
January 31 – reported that benzodiazepines drugs could be the next drug crisis as that dangerous class of drugs is increasingly being prescribed for back aches and chronic pain. (Free registration and log-in required to read the article)
January 31 – MarketWatch reported that Carisk Partners (Carisk), a specialty risk transfer, care coordination company, has selected MDFlow Systems to create a case management system exclusively for the workers’ compensation industry.
Janaury 30 – WorkCompCentral reported that Medicare has slashed hospital outpatient payment rates. The American Hospital Association has sued HHS over the change, which it calls an ill-advised and unlawful payment reduction to the outpatient prospective payment system.
(Purchase of Article or Subscription Required)
January 30 – Business Insurance reported that experts have said the frigid cold blast affecting the Midwest and the snow projected for the South can increase safety hazards and result in an uptick in workplace injuries. Slips, trips and falls increase in the winter because of the changing precipitation from rain to ice to snow and back, and the effects these weather hazards have on walking surfaces.
January 29 – reported that Kimberly George, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, M&A and Healthcare, Sedgwick, and Mark Walls, Vice President of Communications and Strategic Analysis, Safety National, hosted a complimentary webinar that explores critical workers’ compensation and health care issues to watch out for in 2019. (Registration required to view the on-demand webinar)
January 26 – The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that the gig economy doesn’t fit yesterday’s work model, as businesses and laws play catch up.
January 17 – WorkCompCentral reported that a changing workforce and maintaining profits are among top concerns expressed by insurance executives interviewed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance in its annual Focus on 5 survey.
January 9 – WorkCompCentral reported that some workers’ compensation payers are starting to address the social determinants that could impact an injured worker’s recovery.
(Purchase of Article or Subscription Required)
January 2 – WorkCompCentral reported that as the Social Security system moves closer to insolvency, some are predicting that the federal government may take aim this year at the workers’ compensation “reverse offset” provision found in 15 states. That is just one of a bevy of workers’ compensation topics that are being called issues to watch for during 2019. Some of the other topics are telemedicine, opioids and presumptions that certain illnesses among first responders are work-related. (Purchase of Article or Subscription Required)


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