Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that employers in the Empire State could see an expected decrease of 4.5 percent in workers’ compensation premiums. The CIRB said that the decrease came as a result of reforms in the latest budget meant to cut costs. In order for the rates to take effect they need to be reviewed and approved by the Department of Financial Services. They would take effect October 1, 2017.
The budget contains limits to temporary disability payments awarded prior to a permanency award, but would allow exemptions for very seriously injured workers. Other items in the budget include making sure injured workers who cannot go back to work and who are not receiving benefits can receive a hearing within 45 days, and making sure that a greater amount of severely injured workers can apply for a reconsideration of lifetime benefits if their benefit caps are going to expire soon. They also included provisions for first responders who are involved in extremely stressful emergency situations. The Workers’ Compensation Board will publish updated permanent impairment guidelines and establish a prescription drug formulary.
Governor Cuomo has launched several initiatives intended to improve the New York workers’ compensation system, including the Business Relief Act that was signed by Governor Cuomo as part of the 2013-14 budget and created big savings for New York employers. As part of his “business process re-engineering” campaign to restructure the system, the Workers’ Compensation Board may also begin virtual hearings which could be more convenient for injured workers who may not be able to travel as freely. They also have started to resolve disputes using methods other than hearings, so that workers can get benefits in a timelier manner and the hearing board’s time is freed up for those really complex cases. They have seen a decrease in the length of time it takes for appeals to be resolved as well.
Read the press release from Governor Cuomo’s office here.