Five Things You Need to Know: 3/2, Thursday Edition

1) San Bernardino County Investigation Concludes  
As the state Division of Workers' Compensation wraps up its investigation of how San Bernardino County handled victims' claims after the Dec. 2 terrorist attack at Inland Regional Center, it has found "... that while denials for treatment have been rare, delays were attributed mainly to doctors failing to submit information needed to approve treatments," writes Joe Nelson of The Sun. A county news release referenced in the article said state officials credited San Bernardino with taking on treatment requests by hiring nurse case managers to aid in the process. "In December, the Board of Supervisors allocated $100,000 to hire an outside firm to help expedite workers’ compensation claims by establishing the Workers' Comp Claim Expediter Reserve," writes Nelson. A total of 58 survivors requested 2,146 medical and psychological treatment and medications. All but 144 were approved. Two cases (one was a "disputed liability") were not "... approved or denied," with no other information on the situations. "Among the 144 treatments that were denied, only nine were overturned on appeal — less than one percent of the total number of requests. In all, there were 68 appeals filed by 11 employees," according to the county’s news release. 
2)  ID Industrial Commission Chooses ISO to Aid in Electronic Data Collection
Verisk Analytics business ISO, a source in property/casualty insurance risk information based out of New Jersey, has been chosen to assist the Idaho Industrial Commission in introducing Idaho's first electronic data collection system on state workers' compensation claims, according to a GlobeNewswire release on Yahoo Finance. "ISO will help Idaho as it joins a growing number of states implementing electronic data interchange (EDI) reporting, a system that enables insurers across the country to enhance their data quality, make more informed decisions about claims, and provide improved outcomes for injured workers," according to the release. The Industrial Commission will utilize ISO's wcCapture(TM), "... an extensive claims data collection and monitoring system that helps states collect EDI injury reports in an easy, efficient, and cost-effective manner."
3) AK House and Senate Bills to Classify Ride-Sharing Drivers as Independent Contractors 
After Uber left Alaska two years ago, the ride-sharing company was predicted to return once a law was created to exempt it from paying drivers' workers' compensation insurance, writes Caroline Halter of KTOO Public Media. "Now, three state legislators are leading the effort to lay the groundwork for the company’s return, including a measure moving through the House and one in the Senate," according to the article. "... [Rep. Adam] Wool is joining state senators Mia Costello and Anna MacKinnon in an effort to bring Uber, and companies like it, back to Alaska." A house and senate bill currently in Alaska legislature both classify ride-sharing company drivers as independent contractors. Teamsters Local 959 legislative affairs liaison Barbara Huff doesn't agree with the legislation. “Our concern with the bill is with respect to removing them from workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and other employee-employer related benefits,” she said in the article. “We’re not anti-Uber or anti-Lyft, we just want to make sure that the workers are protected.” Uber has been involved in the legislative process, but Huff said the Teamsters haven't been consulted. 
4) AR House Passes Bill That Could Limit Benefits for Employees Killed on the Job and Their Families  
The Arkansas House passed a bill this week which could limit workers' compensation benefits for workers killed on the job and their families to eight years and eight months, writes Jacob Kauffman of KUAR (Arkansas NPR). "... It follows a 2016 law ending the state’s contribution to a compensation fund assisting employers and their insurance pay claims," writes Kauffman. The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce supports the bill and labor groups including the AFL-CIO oppose it. "The bill now heads to the Senate. It took two tries to get through the House," according to the article. 
5) Rousmaniere: Fear, Hypocrisy and PTSD
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting catastrophe took place on December 14, 2012. Shortly, news reports appeared that surviving workers could not get mental health counseling benefits through workers’ compensation. Connecticut is one of the states that bar all or almost all workers’ comp claims for work-induced mental stress if no physical injury has occurred. Left unmentioned in the media, including in the insurance media, that even where so-called “mental-mental,” as opposed to “physical-mental” claims are allowed, being awarded benefits can be difficult. The ghost of Sandy Hook haunts some state legislatures this season. Some are considering bills to expedite workers’ comp benefits to emergency responders for post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of these proposals would establish a rebuttable presumption that benefits should be awarded. To read more, click here. 





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