Lawmakers Consider Costly, Unnecessary Workers’ Comp Bills

Issues & Policies

State lawmakers are considering two unnecessary and costly workers’ compensation bills.
HB 6916 expands remedies and potential liability for unreasonably contested or delayed workers’ compensation claims.
CBIA opposes HB 6916 for many reasons, including that current law already provides the remedies included in this bill.
The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act guarantees medical care and payment for lost wages for employees who suffer work-related injury, illness, or death, regardless of fault or negligence on the employee’s part.
The employee need only show that the injury arose out of, and in the course of, employment.
Because the burden of proof is so low, the vast majority of claims are accepted and reasonable medical care is authorized.

Current law already provides ample remedies to address unreasonable or undue delay issues.

On the rare occasion an undue or unreasonable delay occurs, state law already gives workers' compensation commissioners broad authority to levy fines and penalties.
An employer or insurer may be assessed a penalty of up to $1,000, and the law also calls for fines of up to $500 for delaying completion of the hearing.
Commissioners can award attorney's fees in the case of undue delay as well as 12% interest annual on a delayed compensation award.
Because there are ample remedies to address unreasonable or undue delay issues and the bill will not accomplish its intended goals, CBIA opposes HB 6916.

New Mandate

The legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee is also considering HB 5883, which is essentially a new mandate on all workers' compensation policies in Connecticut.
The bill requires workers' compensation insurance policies to provide coverage for detoxification of an injured employee who has been on opioids continually for at least one year.
CBIA opposes this bill because:

  • Injured workers are already afforded detoxification treatment as deemed necessary
  • Employer health insurance plans cover drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

In fact, effective Jan. 1, 2018, state law mandates that group health insurance policies cover inpatient detoxification services and medically necessary managed services as described in the most recent edition of the American Society of Addiction Medicine treatment criteria for addictive, substance-related conditions.

Opioid Epidemic

This bill also raises many questions.
For example, would the insurer be responsible if it’s determined the prescribing provider failed to follow the established guidelines for prescribing opioids?
What if the addiction or taking of the opioid is not directly linked to the job injury?
Connecticut businesses take the opioid epidemic and its effect on individual health seriously.

Connecticut workers' comp costs are among the nation's highest and adding unnecessary mandates only increases those costs.

Measures are already in place to help address opioid abuse and get care for addicted employees.
Recently enacted legislation provides options to the workers' compensation practitioner facing a variety of issues created by a claimant with opioid abuse difficulties.
The law increases data sharing between state agencies, makes it easier to destroy unused prescription medication, and seeks to reduce the use of opioid medications.

Drug Monitoring

It also requires healthcare providers to get information about patients from the state's prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing controlled substances.
In addition, the law requires healthcare providers to check a patient's history in the drug monitoring program before prescribing more than a 72-hour supply of any controlled substance.
The database also allows providers to verify whether a patient is seeking prescriptions from multiple prescribers or pharmacies in the state, and requires providers prescribing controlled substances for "continuous or prolonged treatment" to review a patient's records at least every 90 days.
While Connecticut workers' compensation costs continue to be among the highest in the nation, there has been some recent good news.
Workers' compensation insurance premiums decreased in 2019 for the fifth straight year.
Rates have steadily declined by nearly 50% over the last five years, reflecting an ongoing decrease in the number of workplace injuries and claims filed.
Adding unnecessary mandates will only increase workers' compensation costs.

For more information, contact CBIA's Louise DiCocco (860.244.1169) | @LouiseDiCocco


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