Five Things You Need to Know: 3/21, Tuesday Edition


1) Gavel Almost Down on IA Workers' Comp Bill Change

Potential big changes in Iowa’s workers’ compensation system are on the table this week, and some aren’t happy about it. “On Monday, Feb. 27, they dropped bills on us that made more than 15 changes that would literally wipe out any significant money recovery for loss of earning capacity,” said Sioux City attorney Dennis McElwain this weekend. "It was a staggering assault on the system," he said of the House Study Bill 169 and Senate Study Bill 1170 passed Thursday, March 16. To read more, click here.


2) IAIABC Reaches Out to Younger Generation with 'NextGen,' an Awards Program

In efforts to reach out, attract, and retain the younger, up-and-coming generation in workers' compensation, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) will introduce the "NextGen" awards program to incentivize people under the age of 40 that are involved in the industry, according to a Middleton, WI Business Wire article posted on Yahoo Finance. "The lack of younger talent, particularly in the insurance industry, has been identified as an important issue within the workers’ compensation community," according to the article. "The insurance industry as a whole faces 400,000 open jobs by 2020 and IAIABC jurisdictional members note 40-50% of their workforce is eligible for retirement within 5 years." The IAIABC NextGen awardees will be profiled in the September issue of "Perspectives," the organization's quarterly digital magazine. They will also be invited to IAIABC's Oct. 2-5th Convention in Portland, OR to take part in a "special program session," and a potential interview with IAIABC's "Accidentally," a monthly podcast. "IAIABC NextGen nominations open on March 20 and close on May 12. Recipients will be selected among the nominees based on their contributions and impact on the workers’ compensation industry," according to the article. For more information, or to nominate someone, click here.


3) SC: Emergency Vehicle Crashes Cost Horry County Taxpayers Millions of Dollars

"Dozens of wrecks involving Horry County police, fire and other emergency vehicles are costing county taxpayers millions of dollars," writes Audrey Hudson of "One solution proposed as an incentive to make it stop — a barbecue dinner for safe drivers." Other forms of training, potential pay increases after insurance savings, etc. are also being discussed by county council members to cut workers' comp and insurance costs. "The climbing costs of workers' comp was revealed to councilmen at the Public Safety Committee earlier this week, and showed that claims totaled nearly $2.6 million from 2014 to 2015 just for the public safety division," according to the article. "Since July of 2015, nearly 50 motor vehicle accidents were reported from the county police, fire, sheriff and EMS, according to the breakdown provided to councilmen." Premiums are expected to rise approximately $1 million in later 2017, due to high numbers of workers' comp claims over three years. "Since 2013, the total amount in worker compensation claims paid from all divisions, including public safety, administration, the airport and infrastructure and regulation, is $5.8 million," writes Hudson. A three-day "budget retreat" will be held at the end of March, including council members and key staffers. What will be up for discussion? Lowering insurance rates.
4) GA Firefighter Bill Heads to Governor's Desk
House Bill 146, sponsored by District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), was sent to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk last week, and the representative is hopeful it will get signed, writes Tom Spigolon of the West Georgia Neighbor. "The sponsor said representatives of Georgia's city and county governments worked with firefighters groups to help write this year's legislation. It caps the combined total of all benefits at $50,000 per firefighter during a lifetime and does not factor workers' compensation claims into the equation," according to the article. If passed, the bill requires fire departments to cover firefighters who have been on staff for 12 consecutive months, and are disabled/unable to work because of cancer. "Insurance benefits would include a lump sum payment of $25,000 or $6,250 based on the severity of the cancer. If the firefighter is unable to perform job duties because of the diagnosis, a monthly benefit equal to 60 percent of the firefighter’s monthly salary at the time of diagnosis, or a monthly benefit of $5,000, would begin six months after the firefighter’s diagnosis and continue for 36 months," Gravley said in the article. Volunteers would be covered too: $1,500 per month for 36 months.
5) Former WV Pepsi Employee Sued For Disability Benefits Fraud
Former employee Michael Lynn Jackson is being sued by Webster Springs-based Pepsi-Cola Metropolitan Bottling Co. Inc. for almost $20,000 in what the company alleges was disability benefits fraud, writes Kyla Asbury of the West Virginia Record. Jackson said he was injured "during the scope of his employment on Oct. 9, 2016," according to a March 1 complaint. "Pepsi claims Jackson filed a workers’ compensation claim against Pepsi and falsely claimed that his injury was so severe that he was unable to work," writes Asbury. "...The defendant feigned serious symptoms that limited his physical abilities, convincing not only his treating physician, but also Pepsi and Pepsi’s third party administrator that he was temporarily and totally disabled," according to the suit referenced in the article. Jackson continued to work his job at Arby's without any injury limits, and was paid more than $16,000 in different types of benefits, as Pepsi claims. "Pepsi is seeking judgment in the amount of $64,546.84 and punitive damages..." according to the article.

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