Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board, a non-governmental rate service organization, has submitted an overall workers’ compensation rate decrease of approximately 4.5 percent, which will save New York employers about $400 million this year in workers’ compensation premiums. In its rate filing, CIRB attributed the reduction in premium rates to certain cost savings measures passed as part of the 2018 budget and general system savings spearheaded by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
"The reforms to the Workers’ Compensation system in this year’s budget will help New York businesses cut costs – enabling them to further reinvest, grow and create more jobs across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "With this rate decrease, New York is providing real savings to businesses helping to make them more competitive while strengthening protections for injured workers at companies across the state."
The rate submission must still be reviewed and approved by the Department of Financial Services and, if approved, would become effective October 1, 2017.
Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, "When we were crafting a budget earlier this year, Senate Republicans including Senators Amedore, Akshar, Jacobs and others insisted that meaningful workers' compensation reform be part of those discussions -- and we delivered. Today’s rate reduction announcement is the start to seeing the fruits of our labor and will save businesses, municipalities, and not-for-profits hundreds of millions of dollars so they can cut their costs, create jobs, grow for the future, and help achieve our goal of making New York more affordable."
Workers' compensation premium rates are determined on an annual basis and take into account recent claims experience as well as implementation of any new policies and procedures. The 2018 Budget specifically addresses cost by applying limits to temporary disability payments prior to a permanency award, while providing an exemption process for the most seriously injured.
Kenneth J. Munnelly, Chair of the Workers' Compensation Board, said, "Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have successfully managed to rebalance the workers’ compensation system to provide better protections for injured workers and provide much needed relief to New York’s businesses."
The budget also includes better protections for injured workers by:
- Expanding the safety net for seriously injured workers, so more are eligible to apply for reconsideration for lifetime benefits when their benefit caps are set to expire.
- Ensuring injured workers who are out-of-work and not receiving benefits will get a hearing within 45 days.
- Providing relief for first responders exposed to extraordinary stress in emergency situations.
- Strengthening the administrative tools available to the Board in its efforts to provide swift and appropriate delivery of benefits to injured workers.
The budget requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to publicize new permanent impairment guidelines to reflect advances in modern medicine that result in better outcomes. Additionally, to ensure that injured workers receive high quality, cost effective medications, the Board will establish a prescription drug formulary.
These reforms build on the Governor’s continued commitment to improve New York’s workers’ compensation system—so that it more effectively serves the needs of injured workers and employers. Signed by the Governor as part of the 2013-14 budget, the Business Relief Act provided hundreds of millions in savings for New York businesses by fundamentally restructuring the way that workers’ compensation assessments were made.
The Governor also launched a comprehensive "business process re-engineering" to re-imagine the workers' compensation system. As part of that effort, the Workers’ Compensation Board is close to launching virtual hearings, which will modernize and virtualize the Board’s present hearing environment and allow injured workers to participate in a hearing at a location that is most convenient for them, even their home.
In addition, the Workers’ Compensation Board has developed new processes to ensure benefits are delivered more timely by utilizing alternative means to resolve disputes. This allows the Board to preserve hearing time for more complex cases with legal disputes. The Board has also generated a dramatic decline in inventory of pending workers’ compensation appeals and the length of time it takes for those appeals to be resolved. The prompt processing of appealed claims aids both workers and employers, by making benefits and treatments available more quickly and lowers litigation costs.