The Workers’ Comp News Digest is a monthly news clipping service provided by the Insurance Council of Texas to our members. Your December 2018 news digest follows:

Texas News

December 31 – WorkCompCentral reported that in a battle between municipal insurers and sickened firefighters, a Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) administrative law judge has ruled against the Texas Municipal League's denial of a Mission, Texas firefighter's cancer claim. The denial of firefighter’s cancer claims by municipal insurers has become a major issue in Texas. DWC reported this year that from 2012 to 2017, insurers denied 106 of 117 cancer claims by firefighters and emergency medical workers. (Purchase of the article or a subscription is required to read the full article).

December 21 – DWC announced that it had determined that any interest or discount provided for in the Texas Workers' Compensation Act shall be at the rate of 6.16 percent.

December 19 – DWC releases report on fatal workplace injuries in 2017. The report shows that there were 534 fatal occupational injuries in Texas in 2017, a 2 percent decrease from 545 in
2016 according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI).

December 17 –TDI posted a notice of a filing made by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) related to proposed changes in NCCI's Basic Manual for Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance. The filing is available here.

December 13 – DWC published the latest edition of the Safety@Work Newsletter. The newsletter is available here.

December 12 – DWC announced the 2018 Insurance Carrier Performance Based Oversight assessment results. The assessment, which reviewed the performance of 121 insurance carriers, had the following results: 55 had scores placing them in the high performer tier, 65 were in the average performer tier, and one had a score placing them in the poor performer tier.

December 12 –DWC announced the adoption of the Workers' Compensation Research and Evaluation Group's fiscal year 2019 Research Agenda. The agenda is available here.

December 12 – TDI issued a data call for Annual Experience and Workers' Compensation Deductible Plans. All insurance companies licensed to write private passenger automobile, commercial automobile, homeowners multiple peril, workers' compensation, commercial fire and allied lines, residential fire and allied lines, commercial multiple peril, general liability, boiler and machinery, commercial crime, commercial glass, surety, inland marine, medical professional liability, or miscellaneous professional liability insurance in Texas must respond to this data call. You must respond to this data call by February 13, 2019.

December 10 – DWC announced the adoption of an amendment to 28 Texas Administrative Code §132.7, relating to the eligibility timeline on death benefits for a spouse of a first responder. The amended rule implements HB 2119 (85th Texas Legislature) which amended §408.183 of the Texas Labor Code to allow eligible spouses of first responders to remain eligible
for death benefits for life after remarrying, if the first responder died as a result of an injury in the course and scope of employment or while providing services as a volunteer, regardless of the date on which the death of the first responder occurred.

December 3 – DWC reminded system participants that starting December 6, 2018, revised DWC Form-032, Request for Designated Doctor Examination and DWC Form-068, Designated Doctor Examination Data Report must be used to comply with new rules to 28 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 127, regarding Designated Doctor Procedures and Requirements.

December 3 – DWC announced the publication of two statutorily required reports: 2018 Biennial Report to the 86th Texas Legislature and Setting the Standard: An Analysis of the Impact of the 2005 Legislative Reforms on the Texas Workers' Compensation System, 2018 Results. ICT prepared and distributed a summary of both reports to our membership.

December 3 –TDI announced the approval of changes to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) Retrospective Rating Plan Manual for Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance. The changes update the values for expected claim count groups and policy excess ratio ranges (Appendix A), aggregate loss factors (Appendix B) and basic premium factor calculation example (Appendix D). The changes were effective on and after January 1, 2019, for new and renewal workers' compensation policies.


National News

December 28 – WorkCompCentral reported that while some workers’ compensation analysts view medical marijuana as a potential way to reduce opioid use among injured workers, thereby lowering claim costs, others are concerned that providing marijuana will actually increase costs.
Analysts with A.M. Best said medical marijuana may simply add to the treatments that injured workers already receive. (Purchase of the article or a subscription is required to read the full article).

December 27 – Business Insurance reported that Uber has established a workers’ comp-like program for drivers. According to Brad Nail, Uber’s senior risk and public policy manager, Uber last year launched an insurance program to give its drivers access to Driver Injury Protection, offered through Aon PLC and OneBeacon Insurance Group. Uber drivers are covered when they log onto the app, when they are on the way to pick up passengers, and when transporting passengers.

December 27 – Business Insurance reported that active shooter events have raised workplace safety concerns. Employers have a wide range of workplace safety issues they must worry about, but active shooter incidents are quickly rising to the top of the list.

December 26 – reported that according to a report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), trucking deaths on the job reached a record high in 2017 and experts are blaming truckers. The BLS report noted that 840 truckers died on the job in 2017, up from 786 in 2016. Since 2011, the number of heavy-duty trucking deaths has risen by 25 percent. As a profession, the trucking industry has on average 26.8 deaths per 10,000 workers, compared with 3.5 deaths per 10,000 workers across all professions. (A free registration and login required to read this article).

December 18 – Property Casualty 360 reported on the latest technological developments impacting the workers’ compensation system.

December 18 – Rising Medical Solutions announced the publication of the sixth annual Workers' Compensation Benchmarking Study Report. The 2018 report focuses solely on medical performance management and how claims payers are surmounting this top industry challenge. To augment their report, Rising Medical Solutions will hold a webinar detailing the 2018 study results on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

December 17 – Property Casualty 360 reported that air ambulance reimbursement disputes complicate workers' comp matters. Although air ambulances save lives, the issue of whether state laws establishing air ambulance reimbursement rates are preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) continues to be heavily litigated in federal and state courts across the country. The article includes a summary of some of the air ambulance workers’ compensation decisions in federal and state courts across the country and discusses federal legislation aimed at addressing air ambulance. (Free registration and login required to read this article)

December 12 – published an article and asked the question: Could Motorized Scooter Use on the Job Lead to Injuries and Work Comp Claims? The answer is unclear. Electronic scooters are becoming a popular mode of transport for riders nationwide, but maintaining safe travel practices at work and at play has become a challenge in some cities across the U.S.

December 6 – Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) reported that medical payments per workers' compensation claim in Texas decreased from 2014 to 2016 for claims with more than seven days of lost time, evaluated as of 2017. This followed several years of increasing medical costs. The study, CompScope™ Medical Benchmarks for Texas, 19th Edition, examines medical payments per claim, prices, and utilization in Texas and compares them with 17 other states. The study also examines the longer-term trends to show how these metrics of medical payments and care have changed following the Texas series of reforms.

December 5 – The Insurance Journal reported that only a fraction of patients benefit from medical Cannabis under Texas Law. Fewer than 600 of an estimated 150,000 Texas patients with uncontrollable epileptic seizures have been prescribed a low-THC oil derived from cannabis under the state’s restrictive medical marijuana program.

December 5 –Business Insurance reported that the shift to ambulatory care centers is lowering costs, improving outcomes. Injured workers who need surgery are increasingly going to ambulatory surgical centers instead of hospitals for treatment as experts say that such procedures can produce better, less expensive outcomes with fewer complications for most patients.



Workers’ Comp Seminar

Thursday April 11, 2019

TCEA Conference Center

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Ring in the New Year with ICT’s Workers’ Comp Seminar


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