WV Atty General’s Office Eliminates Work Comp Defense Division

06 Aug, 2018 Liz Carey


Charleston, WV (WorkersCompensation.com) – The West Virginia Insurance Commissioner will sever his agreement with the Division of Employment Programs and Workers’ Compensation Defense within the WV Attorney General’s office. 

Allen McVey, West Virginia Insurance Commissioner, said the decision was based on the rapidly decreasing number of appeals and requests that require litigation.

“We’ve had such a reduction in claims and protests that we felt we didn’t need essentially a law firm to represent us anymore,” McVey said, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The WV Workers’ Compensation program was privatized in 2006. Since then, the Insurance Commissioner’s office said, the program went from 18,975 appeals in 2005 to 1,482 protests in the first half of 2018. About 90 of those claims this year predate the privatization of workers’ compensation.

The elimination of the division will save the state $1 million, McVey estimates, but will cost ten jobs, three of them attorneys. 

McVey’s office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The Insurance Commission and the Department of Revenue informed the WV Attorney General’s office this week that the Commission would be terminating a long-standing Memorandum of Understanding that Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office would provide the Insurance Commissioner’s office with legal services, an agreement worth about $1.5 million per year.

“The division’s sole responsibility is to serve the office of the Insurance Commissioner as it administers the claims against the state’s Workers’ Compensation Old Fund,” said Curtis Johnson, the attorney general’s spokesman, according to the Gazette-Mail. “In recognition of the Fund’s dwindling claims, the office of the Insurance Commissioner recently exercised its 60-day right to cease services provided by the attorney general’s office.”

Johnson said the attorney general’s office was working with those whose positions will be eliminated in order to help them find employment.

Any remaining claims to the state’s Old Fund would be referred to third-party administrators Sedgwick and HealthSmart, and to in-house attorneys, McVey said.

The move is part of a move throughout the state’s Department of Revenue toward efficiency and effectiveness. 

The WV legislature anticipated that privatization of workers’ compensation would create layoff and passed legislation in 2008 to give employees of the division preferential consideration for other positions within state agencies, including the attorney general’s office.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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