Workers’ Compensation Bill Filed in House

Rep. Bryon Short bill is result of task force, would place tighter controls on medical costs

DOVER – A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would adopt several recommendations from a task force to address a more than 30-percent workers’ compensation rate increase over the last two years.

Sponsored by Rep. Bryon Short, House Bill 175 would implement recommendations made by the task force the General Assembly established earlier this year that Lt. Gov. Matt Denn chaired. The task force was prompted by a 34-pecent increase in workers’ compensation rates, which led to increased costs for Delaware businesses and made it harder for them to compete with businesses from neighboring states.

“I believe the results of the task force will have a substantial positive impact on workers’ compensation rates going forward,” said Rep. Short, D-Brandywine Hundred. “The recommendations will result in a better understanding on the data and cost drivers for workers’ compensation and will ensure that those rates are held as low as possible while ensuring they protect our workers.”

HB 175 would:

  • Place tighter controls on workers compensation medical costs.  These recommendations include a two-year inflation freeze on the fee schedule for medical treatment of workers compensation recipients, a permanent reduction in the inflation rate allowed for hospital treatment of workers compensation recipients, and reductions in allowed reimbursements in a variety of medical categories;
  • Ensure that insurance carriers’ requests for rate increases receive a high level of scrutiny.  These recommendations include the retention of a part-time attorney to represent businesses during the workers compensation rate-setting process, and a system to ensure that insurers are diligently enforcing the state’s medical cost controls;
  • Make the state’s laws encouraging injured workers to return to work more effective;
  • Improve the state’s workplace safety program to both increase its usage and ensure that is accurately determines which workplaces are using appropriate safety practices.

Rep. Short said the task force would continue to meet to address other areas identified that have impacted workers compensation rate increases.

HB 175 has been assigned to the House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance & Commerce Committee and will be heard in committee tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.