Workers' Compensation: State Enactments in 1992

Article excerpt

Ruth A. Brown is a State standards adviser in the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. During 1992, four States provided workers' compensation coverage through alternate sources, other than through workers' compensation insurance. Alabama permitted employers to insure for workers' compensation liability by any combination of life, disability, accident, health, or other insurance as long as coverage did not limit or exclude workers' compensation benefits. California implemented a pilot project under which a participating employer would be authorized to contract with a qualified health care service plan to be the exclusive provider of medical care for work and nonwork injuries and illnesses. Georgia's insurance commissioner was authorized to approve pilot projects which allowed employers and employees to enter into agreements to provide employees with workers' compensation medical benefits through comprehensive health insurance that covers workplace injuries and illnesses. Maine passed legislation requiring the superintendent of insurance to adopt rules to permit employers and employees to enter into agreements to provide the employees with health care benefits covering both workplace and nonworkplace injury and illness.

The number of States allowing workers compensation policies with deductibles continued to increase, as Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Missouri instituted such provisions. Colorado increased the amount of the deductible allowed under its statute.

Workers' compensation fraud received considerable attention in 1992, as Connecticut, Minnesota, and Oklahoma established fraud units within their workers' compensation divisions, and Alabama, Missouri, and Rhode Island stiffened their fraud penalty provisions.

Volunteers are now provided workers' compensation coverage under certain circumstances and/or for certain benefits in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, and Minnesota. New legislation in Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah require employers to establish workplace safety programs.

Tennessee established a competitive State workers' compensation insurance fund that would be subject to the same requirements of the law and regulation as any other insurer offering workers' compensation coverage. As a result of reform of Maine's workers' compensation system, legislation was enacted to create an employer' s mutual workers' compensation fund to provide a competitive market for coverage; previous legislation relating to a competitive State fund was repealed by the new legislation.

Georgia increased its maximum weekly temporary total disability benefits from $225 to $250, and placed a 400-week cap on such benefits except in catastrophic cases.

Iowa and Ohio now call for garnishment of workers' compensation benefits to pay for child support, and West Virginia allows garnishment for payment of child or spousal support.

Maximum funeral and burial expenses were increased in Alabama from $1,000 to $3,000; Iowa, $1,000 to $5,000; Minnesota, $2,500 to $7,000; and Virginia, $3,000 to $5,000.

Following is a summary of legislation enacted by individual States:

Alabama

A Workers' Compensation Medical Services Board was established to insure that high quality medical services are provided in a cost-effective manner to employees injured on the job. The board is required to establish a medical fee schedule, although any employer, carder, self-insurer, or group fund is allowed to contract with physicians, hospitals, and health care providers for medical services to injured employees at any rates, fees, or levels of reimbursements mutually agreed upon.

Employers are permitted to insure workers' compensation liability by any combination of life, disability, accident, health, or other insurance as long as coverages insure without limitation or exclusion of workers' compensation benefits. …