We Did It! - 2017 Workers' Compensation Reform
Staff Contact: Lev Ginsburg
After making workers’ compensation reform the top priority of The Business Council’s legislative agenda, we are happy to announce that the agreed to FY 2017-18 State Budget includes language significantly reforming New York’s workers’ compensation system that will create meaningful savings for all employers in the state. The bill received final legislative approval this weekend, and is awaiting the Governor's signature. Like all reforms of this nature, there was significant negotiation among stakeholders and the houses. We would like to especially applaud the state Senate, particularly Majority Leader Flanagan and Senators DeFrancisco, Akshar and Amedore for making comp reform a top priority of the Senate and making sure that it became a reality. We also want to thank Assembly members McDonald and Woerner for standing firm in their house and consistently calling for relief. The cost-saving highlights of reform include:
- Capping classification of Maximum Medical Improvement at 2.5 years by creation of a credit to employers for temporary payments beyond the threshold;
- The guaranteed development of new Impairment Guidelines, to be adopted by 1/1/18, that will adhere to modern medical evidence and modern medical outcomes;
- The issuance of a pharmaceutical formulary by the Workers’ Comp Board by 12/31/17.
The reform also includes provisions designed to enhance coverage for injured workers by:
- Decreasing the threshold for the permanent partial disability cap “safety net” from an impairment of 80% to 75%;
- Removing the requirement that an injured worker, who was entitled to benefits and attached at the time of classification, demonstrate attachment to the labor market;
- Expedite some hearing to 45 day from date of request;
- Changing threshold for proof for mental health claims for first-responders.
Additionally, there are provisions to:
- Create a panel to study independent medical examinations;
- Wind down Special Funds;
- Create minor modifications to NYCIRB’s public reporting and recertify NYCIRB as the rate setting organization until 2028;
- Establish performance standards for penalties and assessments on carriers and self-insured employers.
We are certain that these measures will in total not only create significant savings in year-one but will continue to reap savings as Impairment Guidelines go into effect next January, creating an even greater annualized savings of hundreds of millions of dollars into the future. We want to thank our members and the more than 65 employer organizations and hundreds of other employers who joined our efforts to make long-sought reforms a reality.