State of the States


Oregon - Last week, the Oregon state Senate passed HB 2915, a bill that would expand workers’ compensation eligibility for firefighters in Portland, the state’s largest city, for certain occupational diseases, particularly those related to issues with the heart and lungs. Although firefighters in Oregon were eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for specific conditions stemming from the nature of their work since the ‘60s, Portland firefighters were excluded from these protections. The Portland exclusion is due, in part, to the city having its own disability and retirement systems. If signed by the Governor, the protections would take immediate effect.

Nebraska - Recently, the Governor signed LB 407 just two days after the unicameral legislature (the only one in the nation) passed the legislation with a clear majority. The bill would include correctional officers being eligible for mental health coverage under workers’ compensation. This legislation adds to the existing language that covers first responders for mental health/PTSD coverage. Adding correctional officers to increased coverage under workers’ compensation is a trend in state legislatures that continues to gain momentum.

Colorado - The Colorado Senate held a hearing last Wednesday on CO HB 21-1012. The bill requires the PDMP tracking of all prescription drugs and not just controlled substances, similar to the current law in Nebraska. Colorado is one of the few states that seriously considered expanding their PDMP database tracking. The bill passed the lower chamber two weeks ago and looks to have considerable bipartisan support from both legislative chambers. If fully enacted, this would go into effect Febuary 1, 2023.

National - Recently released OSHA data from 2015- 2020 showed the states with the highest rates of severe injuries in the workplace. The data revealed that North Dakota, Arkansas, and Nebraska held the top 3 spots for the highest severe injury rates. In North Dakota, there were 135 severe workplace injuries for every 100,000 people since 2015, a rate 47% higher than the next state of Arkansas. One possible reason for North Dakota’s top spot is largely due to its abundance of transportation and material moving jobs. The state also has a high number of oil well pumpers at nearly 30x the national average. Other states that rounded out the top ten were MS, SD, AL, WI, KS, OH, and WV. Prescription drug prices are falling for most states, according to a WCRI report released this week. However, per claim payments and payments shares still vary significantly from state to state. The study showed that while payments for opioids have fallen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and dermatological agents have hit the top of most states’ share of total prescription payments. Researchers analyzed 28 states from 2017 to 2020 and found that in more than 20, prescription payments per medical claim dropped over 15%, yet per claim, payments in the highest state were more than eight times greater than those in the lower end.

By Jayne Kresac

Courtesy of Injured Workers Pharmacy Blog

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