For Immediate Release
October 18, 2018
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry applauded the General Assembly for passing significant workers’ comp legislation that will save employers hundreds of millions of dollars and urged the governor to quickly sign the bill into law.
House Bill 1840 provides a fix to a state Supreme Court decision in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, which has been financially detrimental to employers. Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court removed Impairment Rating Evaluations from the law, which for more than 20 years has provided a structured process for state-designated physicians to determine a patient’s level of impairment and how long wage-loss benefits should be paid. As a result of the ruling, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau took the unprecedented action of filing for a mid-year loss cost increase, which industry experts are conservatively estimating is costing employers $300 million each year in higher insurance costs.
“For more than two decades, IREs have played an integral role in bringing structure, fairness and stability to the workers’ compensation system,” said PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr. “We commend the General Assembly for working to address the Court’s concerns in order to reinstate the IRE process, which will help to rein in WC costs and bring a level of predictability to all stakeholders.”
This week the General Assembly also passed S.B. 676 related to the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, which covers medical and wage benefits for injured workers whose employers do not have workers’ compensation coverage. While this legislation will improve the administration and finances of UEGF, a key reform was unfortunately removed which would have required claimants to substantiate the wages they claimed to earn in order to qualify for wage benefits.
“This bill includes a number of positive reforms and goes a long way towards addressing the solvency of the fund and ensuring it can remain a safety net for injured workers who have the misfortune of working for an irresponsible employer,” Barr added. “While we are disappointed the proof of wages reform was removed, we look forward to working with elected officials to address this abuse in the upcoming legislative session.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.