Workers’ comp costs going down in NY, saving employers

Staff Reports Posted 16 May 2017 at 8:13 am

Workers’ compensation rates will be going down about 4.5 percent, saving employers in New York about $400 million this year in workers’ compensation premiums, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.

The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board attributed the reduction in premium rates to certain cost savings measures passed as part of the 2018 budget and general system savings spearheaded by Compensation Board.

“The reforms to the Workers’ Compensation system in this year’s budget will help New York businesses cut costs – enabling them to further reinvest, grow and create more jobs across the state,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “With this rate decrease, New York is providing real savings to businesses helping to make them more competitive while strengthening protections for injured workers at companies across the state.”

The rate submission must still be reviewed and approved by the Department of Financial Services and, if approved, would become effective October 1, 2017.

Workers’ compensation premium rates are determined on an annual basis and take into account recent claims experience as well as implementation of any new policies and procedures. The 2018 state budget specifically addresses cost by applying limits to temporary disability payments prior to a permanency award, while providing an exemption process for the most seriously injured.

Cuomo said the state budget also includes better protections for injured workers by:

  • Expanding the safety net for seriously injured workers, so more are eligible to apply for reconsideration for lifetime benefits when their benefit caps are set to expire.
  • Ensuring injured workers who are out-of-work and not receiving benefits will get a hearing within 45 days.
  • Providing relief for first responders exposed to extraordinary stress in emergency situations.
  • Strengthening the administrative tools available to the Board in its efforts to provide swift and appropriate delivery of benefits to injured workers.

The budget requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to publicize new permanent impairment guidelines to reflect advances in modern medicine that result in better outcomes. Additionally, to ensure that injured workers receive high quality, cost effective medications, the Board will establish a prescription drug formulary.

State Senator Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) said the rate reduction will save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Earlier this year, I stood tall with my fellow Senate Republicans to call for meaningful workers’ compensation reforms,” Ortt said in a statement. “As part of the new budget, we secured the most comprehensive reforms, saving $700 million annually for businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities without shortchanging injured workers. This cost-cutting measure is an important step forward for all New Yorkers that will pave the way for the creation of new jobs and economic growth.”

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