News Bulletins

In local news:

Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) Director Sheral Kellar released a statement in response to the passage of HB592 (the ODG formulary bill) and a recent WorkCompCentral article that indicated that Governor John Bel Edwards will veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

Read the entire statement on Comp Blog here.

In neighboring news:

The Texas Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group has released its 2017 research agenda, a blueprint for its efforts to provide critical data for decision-makers in the Texas workers’ compensation system. Preliminary projects for the Fiscal Year 2017 Research Agenda include:

  • Completion of the 11th edition of the Workers’ Compensation Health Care Network Report Card.
  • Evaluation of use and cost patterns of compound drugs.
  • Analysis of adequacy of workers compensation income benefits.
  • An update on the 2003 impact of work-hardening/work conditioning programs. These are rehabilitation programs that help employees restore their physical abilities and get back to work.

Further details here.

In industry news:

The U.S. property/casualty industry posted a first-quarter 2017 net underwriting loss of $841.5 million, according to preliminary financial results from A.M. Best, continuing the industry’s underwriting loss trend seen in 2016. The first-quarter loss was significantly less than the $2.0 billion net underwriting profit reported in first-quarter 2016, and was the only first-quarter underwriting loss reported in the last five years. The data for the report titled, “A.M. Best First Look—1Qtr 2017 U.S. Property/Casualty Financial Results,” is derived from companies’ three-month 2017 interim statutory statements that were received as of May 17, 2017, representing an estimated 96 percent of the total property/casualty industry’s net premiums written.

Read more via Insurance Journal here.

In local news:

A new report suggests that Governor John Bel Edwards will veto HB592, the ODG closed pharmacy formulary bill, if it gets to his desk by the time the Legislative Session ends on June 8th. According to a partial statement published by WorkCompCentral, Richard Carbo, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said that the formulary would not address the opioid issue in the state. “This formulary lists the opioid hydrocodone as a ‘yes’ drug, but lists common non-addictive topical pain patches as ‘no’ drugs, thus, not addressing the issue with the most commonly prescribed opioid,” Carbo said. HB592 passed the House 58-36 on Tuesday, despite the opposition of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), the Louisiana State Medical Society, and labor. The bill will be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee this morning.

Read more from WCC here.

In educational news:

WCRI will share its latest research on employee versus employer provider choice during a 45-minute webinar on June 14th, at 1 PM. The webinar will be hosted by Dr. Bogdan Savych, a public policy analyst at WCRI. The study discussed during the webinar, The Effects of Provider Choice Policies on Workers’ Compensation Costs, observes the effects on costs for injuries that occurred mostly between 2007 and 2010 across 25 states in which either employers or workers control the choice of provider. The program is free for WCRI members and $50 for non-members. Attendance is limited to 100 participants.

Register here.

In research news:

CompPharma, LLC, a consortium of workers’ compensation pharmacy benefit managers, has published its second free research paper on compounding in workers’ compensation entitled Compounds in Comp: A New Look at Patient Safety, Efficacy and Cost. Written by pharmacists and public affairs professionals working for CompPharma’s member PBMs, the paper examines patient safety, efficacy, quality, and cost issues surrounding compounds in workers’ compensation.

Download the report: CompPharmaCompoundsinComp2017

In legislative news:

Rep. Talbot’s HB592, which would establish the ODG Appendix A closed prescription drug formulary for workers’ comp in the state, passed the House after about 40 minutes of debate yesterday. The vote came down to 58 yeas and 36 nays.

In economic news:

Real average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, for all private sector employees from April 2016 to April 2017, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. The increase in real average hourly earnings combined with no change in the average workweek resulted in a 0.3-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over the year.

Read more here.

In industry news:

A new Insurance Journal feature highlights Whirlpool’s risk manager. The piece includes an InsuranceJournal.tv conversation.

Read and watch here.

In research news:

The U.S. commercial lines insurance market segment reported its fourth consecutive underwriting profit in 2016, but the combined ratio deteriorated by 4 percentage points to 99 percent according to a new report from Fitch Ratings. Workers’ compensation was one bright spot. The report found that combined ratios of about 95 percent in 2015 and 2016, citing employment growth and macroeconomic improvement as key contributors.

Read more via WorkCompWire here.