Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Legislators Tackle Compensation Bill's Less Tender Items

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Legislators Tackle Compensation Bill's Less Tender Items

Article excerpt

The legislative joint conference committee called to study a workers compensation reform bill took action on several of the bill's least controversial provisions Thursday.

Three of the tougher portions of the bill _ managed care, medical fees caps and an independent medical examiner system _ will be taken up when the committee meets again Tuesday and Wednesday.

The committee threw out a House amendment which would limit attorneys' fees in permanent disability and death benefits cases to 10 percent. With the amendment removed, the fee cap on those cases would be 20 percent.

The committee also approved the bill's provisions for reducing the waiting period on disability benefits from seven to three days and changing the ombudsman program to a counselor program and expanding it.

Two provisions which affect the State Insurance Fund were adopted.

The committee accepted a section which would modify who may perform yearly audits of the fund and would require the state insurance commissioner to examine the fund in the same manner as a domestic insurer.

The committee adopted a section which would authorize the State Insurance Fund's commissioner to administer a program permitting employers to appeal rating classification decisions.

It would also require the fund to be funded through actuarially sound rates and premiums charged to policyholders and to retain premiums or assessments exceeding amounts needed to fund its projected losses and expenses. It would make the fund responsible for its losses.

The committee removed provisions in the section which would require the state Property and Casualty Rates Board to approve certain independent actuarial certifications of the fund's incurred losses and collected premiums and would require the fund to submit a plan to eliminate deficits to the board within 90 days of the deficit. …

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