The ongoing effects of COVID-19, cannabis legalization and medical cost containment are among the major regulatory and legislative issues that states across the country are grappling with, according to the NCCI.
The ongoing effects of COVID-19 in the workplace, legalization of cannabis and medical cost containment are a few of the major issues states across the country are grappling with, according to a report that tracks legislative activity related to compensation.
This is the tenth year that the Regulatory and Legislative Trends Report has been prepared by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
The 2022 report highlights legislative activity related to workers’ compensation and issues common across the country.
As of July 31, the report tracks 844 state and federal bills, including 447 in states where NCCI provides assessment preparation services.
To date, 98 bills have been enacted.
In addition, the NCCI monitored 243 proposed regulations related to workers’ compensation. As of July 31, 95 of those proposed regulations have been adopted.
“As in previous years, medical cost containment has been the central theme of approved regulations, including medical fee schedules and treatment guidelines, while many approved regulations have addressed requirements for claims reporting, surcharges and assessment,” said Laura Kersey, Executive Director. NCCI Regulatory and Legislative Analysis.
NCCI has tracked more than 118 invoices related to COVID-19 and insurance this year.
“This year we continued to see states focus on COVID-19 legislation, including COVID-19 worker compensation assumptions,” Kersey said.
The report found that during 2020 and 2021, 18 states created assumptions about COVID-19 through legislation, directives, and/or emergency rules.
In general, these are assumptions indicating that an employee’s exposure to or contraction of COVID-19 is related to work or a compensable injury or illness.
Most of these assumptions included expiration dates or lapse provisions associated with the end of the emergency or some other specific date.
The report noted that several states have proposed legislation this year to extend expiration dates for COVID-19 workers compensation assumptions, while some states have considered legislation to create new COVID-19 assumptions.
In addition, several states have considered legislation to create broader compensation assumptions for infectious disease workers that could be applicable beyond the COVID-19 pandemic..
2) COVID-19 Vaccines
A new trend emerged in 2021 and early 2022 that included workers compensation and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Several states have proposed legislation that would either limit the presumption of worker compensation for employee adverse effects from an employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccination or specify that injuries from required COVID-19 vaccines must be compensable under the Workers Compensation Act.
Additionally, a few states have proposed legislation that would create a special right to sue an employer for certain injuries or deaths resulting from an employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccination.
While the issue of workers’ compensation and COVID-19 vaccinations is worth watching, it hasn’t gained traction during the legislative season and so far none of the bills has been enacted, Kersey said.
3) mental health
Another hot topic mentioned in the report is mental health.
“Workers’ compensation for workplace-related mental injuries continued to be a major topic this year, including legislation addressing PTSD,” Kersey said.
Of the 61 bills monitored by the NCCI related to workers compensation and mental health, 46 of the bills were related to PTSD.
A new law in New Hampshire, for example, re-establishes a commission to study the incidence of PTSD in first responders and ensures that mental health training is available to first responders, law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical service and corrections personnel.
In Florida, a new law expands workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD to correctional officers under certain conditions.
While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, states continue to legalize it in various forms through legislation and polling procedures. States also continue to discuss issues related to medical marijuana reimbursement in workers compensation.
So far this year, two states — Rhode Island and Maryland — have passed legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
However, Maryland legislation requires voter approval of a state constitutional amendment before recreational marijuana can become legal in the state.
Mississippi enacted legislation legalizing the medical use of marijuana, which also stated that workers compensation insurance companies are not required to reimburse medical marijuana as a worker’s compensation treatment.
Rhode Island and South Dakota also enacted legislation this year that says repayment is not required.
New Jersey and New York are considering proposals to require workers’ compensation coverage for medical marijuana treatment under certain conditions.
5) Validity of one motive
The idea of a single-payer health insurance system has been debated at the state and federal levels for years.
To date, no country has fully implemented such an approach, but several jurisdictions are studying the issue.
Kersey said bills that include a reference to workers’ compensation are of particular interest.
In most states that refer to workers’ compensation, legislation generally contains similar language that directs the board of directors of a new single-payer state health care program to develop a proposal to cover health care items and services currently covered by the workers’ compensation system, including whether and how to continue to fund workers’ compensation services Which health care is currently covered by the workers compensation scheme and whether and how an experience assessment component will be included.
Four states, California, Kansas, New York and Rhode Island, have considered or are considering proposals for single-payer health insurance with a workers compensation component.
6) Independent Contractors / Freelance Economy
States continue to discuss legislative proposals that provide criteria for determining whether a worker is classified as an employee of a company or as an independent contractor.
This year, two states considered legislation to create a test to determine worker status, similar to the California three-part test, also known as the ABC test.
In Rhode Island, the proposed legislation would have created a three-part test to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, similar to the ABC test in California. The bill was held in a Senate committee.
Vermont also considered a multi-pronged test to determine whether a worker was an employee or an independent contractor, but the bill did not provide this hearing.
Three states have enacted legislation related to the temporary job economy.
In Alabama, for example, a new law excludes some market contractors (gig workers) who work on market platforms such as Uber, Grubhub, Shipt, and others from the employment definition and considers them independent contractors.
Information by region
The report also highlights legislative activity and common issues in four regions – the Midwest, the Northeast, the Southeast, and the West.
Kersey said two interactive elements are useful for users who want to tailor the information they’re looking for.
An interactive feature allows a country-wide view of workers compensation legislation enacted in 2022 that can be categorized by state, region and topic of interest.
Another interactive feature is the interactive cost/loss rate filing dashboard that allows users to navigate approved and approved cost/loss rate filing information based on the 2021-2022 filing season.
The “Show Me How” button at the top of each dashboard provides more information about interacting with the dashboards.
Kersey said the interactive features allow users to “customize their experience and interact with workers compensation information in new ways.” &