House Democratic Leaders Object to Workers’ Compensation Report, Call for its Rejection

WILMINGTON – House Democratic Caucus leaders sent a letter urging Delaware’s insurance commissioner to reject a rating bureau’s recommendation to increase workers’ compensations insurance rates by 40 percent.

The two-page letter from House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst and Majority Whip Rep. John Viola was sent on behalf of the entire House Democratic Caucus. The letter objects to the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau’s report, which was issued last month. The bureau recommended increasing businesses’ workers’ compensation rates by 40 percent, but offered an alternative rate hike of 17 percent. In the last two years, the Department of Insurance has approved rate increases totaling 26 percent – 11 percent in 2011 and 15 percent last year.

“(That) total … already has put a strain on businesses struggling to keep their doors open as our economy slowly recovers,” the letter to Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart states. “Approving another large rate increase would have devastating effects on Delaware businesses and could force companies into difficult positions about retaining jobs or even remaining open.”

House leaders noted in the letter that the General Assembly has passed legislation twice in recent years – including earlier this session – to curb workers’ compensation rates. They also pointed to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a reason to postpone action on the bureau’s recommendations.