We’re in the home stretch of 2016. This year saw Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ administration installed, the election of a new President, several high profile reports criticizing state workers’ comp systems, and numerous regulatory and rule changes.
Louisiana Comp Blog reached out to local and national voices in the comp arena to ask: What was the biggest story of 2016?
Troy Prevot | Executive Vice President, LCTA Workers’ Comp:
“The most impactful thing in workers’ comp for the year from my perspective is the continued significant decline in rates filed by NCCI (-9.8% for 2017). On the positive side, this represents a decrease in frequency of injury rates. But with little to know change in disability durations and the associated costs of taking care of patients, it will ultimately result in higher costs for employers and possibly limit employment opportunities in the future.”
Charles Davoli | Managing Partner, Davoli & Krumholt:
“Near the close of 2016, but prior to the recent election of our new President, US Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, after eight years of leading America’s labor force, finally documented DOL’s recognition of the obvious crisis in our nation’s system of social insurance for workers’ compensation, in his October 5th report, “Does the Workers’ Compensation System Fulfill its Obligations to Injured Workers?”
After two decades of methodical erosion of state workers’ compensation systems – much of it during his watch as Labor Secretary – and ample evidence of the “race to the bottom” in benefit provisions sweeping the country, Perez suggests it may be time to revisit the 1972 President’s Workers’ Compensation Commission recommendations and the prospect of renewed Federal oversight and intervention in state systems.
Unfortunately, Perez’s attention to the problem and initiative comes “too little too late.” With the collapse of pro-labor leadership at both the federal and state levels, and with the obvious deregulation and anti-worker rhetoric of new business-friendly federal leadership, it is doubtful that state benefit systems will avoid further deterioration and possibly could face evolution and development of alternative employer-employee benefit plans to address work-related injuries and related disabilities.”
Kirk Landry | Partner, Keogh, Cox & Wilson:
“The biggest story seems to be the changes in leadership at the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the makeup of the Advisory Council following the Gubernatorial election. As a result, we are seeing a number of changes in personnel, policies and priorities.”
Elizabeth Lowry | Area Manager, CorVel Corporation:
“For this year, which was very light in terms of advancements or new policies in comp in Louisiana, I believe the biggest story of 2016 was the constitutionality suit questioning the Medical Treatment Guidelines. It is important because the outcome will shape the speed and process by which we can provide timely and appropriate care for our injured workers.”
Patrick Robinson | Regional Director, WCRI:
“From a national perspective, a couple of issues seemed to influence the national discussion more than others this year. First, Louisiana and other states continue to assess and address opioid use/abuse. The Commission on Preventing Opioid Abuse created under HCR 113 mirrors similar efforts in other states, and I look forward to seeing the solutions proposed by the Commission. Second, the successful constitutional challenges to recent legislative efforts in some states were key issues. Depending on your point of view, those decisions emphasize the role of the judiciary in either preserving or expanding the ‘Grand Bargain.’
At a local level, maintaining and/or updating the Medical Treatment Guidelines process and certain aspects of the medical fee schedule remain issues in Louisiana. Both are complex and longstanding questions, but when stakeholders resolve them it, will benefit everyone via a simpler, fairer, more predictable process that is more cost-effective and less litigious.”
Carlos Luna | Director of Government Affairs, MDGuidelines®:
“From my vantage point in government affairs, the most common thread of discussion impacting workers’ compensation and population health in 2016 was combatting the nation’s appetite and addiction to dangerous prescription drugs, like opioids. Various opioid-related bills were passed throughout the country creating standards for the use of these drugs. Tools like Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), trustworthy Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Treatment Guidelines and Drug Formularies were the basis of important legislative measures discussed throughout the country.
Further, addressing biopsychosocial factors through patient advocacy claims models to positively impact disability duration was a big and equally important story. The workers’ compensation care and claim continuum can and will see improved outcomes by addressing the biopsychosocial, along with the physiological, needs of injured workers.”
Image Credit: Bitcoinist.com