Things you should know

Workers’ Comp benefits decline while employer costs rise

Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs provides comprehensive data on workers’ compensation benefits, coverage, and employer costs for the nation, the states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs. Benefits as a percent of payroll declined in 46 states between 2010 and 2014, continuing a national trend in lower benefits relative to payroll that began in the 1990s.

Costs to employers, on the other hand, continue to climb. Between 2010 and 2014, employer costs associated with workers’ compensation grew at a rate nearly five times faster than benefits. Researchers cited the recovering economy, state law changes, declining levels of injury, and quicker return-to-work as contributing factors.

Treatment costs of opioid abuse and dependence soar

FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization issued a white paper, The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on the Healthcare System: A Study of Privately Billed Services, which examined overall medical claims data from 2011 to 2014 and found a 1,000% increase in treatment costs related to opioid abuse and dependence, along with a 1,375% increase in the maximum amount an insurer will pay in expenses related to opioid addiction.

Study links workplace wellness programs and mental health

In a study of workplace wellness programs and mental health, researchers at UCLA note: “This data strongly suggests that workplace wellness plans have a positive effect on people’s mental state of mind as well as their physical wellness.” “Targeting workplace mental health, and using such exercise and wellness programs can effectively reduce absenteeism, disability and productivity losses, and reduce the healthcare costs associated with those issues.”

The study is available in the Occupational Medicine journal.

CMS lowers SCHIP reporting threshold for workers’ compensation cases

The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 required that settlement thresholds be established wherein settlements falling below the threshold would not have to be reported to CMS and conditional payments would not need to be reimbursed. The initial settlement threshold for both workers’ compensation and liability cases was established at $1,000.

On September 26, 2016, CMS issued a memorandum lowering the workers’ compensation submission threshold to $750. This means insurers will be required to report an additional number of settlements to CMS in accordance with SCHIP.

Where cases can be settled for $750 or less and Medicare made conditional payments, the settlement can proceed without the need for SCHIP reporting or conditional payments reimbursement.

Best practices for gloves in healthcare setting

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology has created a flier detailing best practices for proper use of different types of gloves in health care settings. The flier outlines what health care workers should and should not do when using sterile, non-sterile, non-medical, and utility gloves.

MSHA issues safety alert on vacuum operations

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is urging miners and any other industry that uses vacuum trucks (telecom, water/sewer utilities, etc.) to exercise extreme caution in and around vacuum trucks because of potentially life-threatening hazards, such as static electricity-related hazards that can result in shock, explosions and secondary injuries. The safety alert also offers best practices.

Federal government heightening debate on federal oversight of state workers’ comp programs

In a report “Does The Workers’ Compensation System Fulfill Its Obligations to Injured Workers?” released Oct. 5, the U.S. Labor Department is elevating the debate over whether federal oversight of state workers’ comp programs is warranted.

NIOSH guidance to health care settings on drugs and PPE

NIOSH has added 34 drugs to its list of those with the potential to be hazardous to health care workers.The newly added drugs are presented in three categories: antineoplastic drugs, non-antineoplastic hazardous drugs, and drugs with reproductive effects.

The NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2016 also updates guidance on engineering controls and personal protective equipment for health care settings.


State News

Florida faces 14.5 percent average increase in workers’ comp premiums

State regulators have approved a 14.5 percent average increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums, which would become effective Dec. 1 for new and renewal business.

California: new regulations to protect health care workers from workplace violence

Regulations intended to protect California’s health care workers from workplace violence have been unanimously approved by the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board and are scheduled to go in effect in January.

Pennsylvania launches worker misclassification public awareness campaign

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has launched a public awareness campaign about worker misclassification, funded by a $473,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit

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