Insurance Company Scandal Raises Employer Workers’ Compensation Costs in NY

If employers in New York State ever needed more evidence that the real enemy to rising workers’ compensation costs is insurance companies, not injured workers, they need look no further than the recent 1.6 billion dollar AIG bid rigging settlement with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Bottom Line – besides rigging bids to boost their exorbitant profit margins at the expense of employers, AIG cheated the New York Workers’ Compensation Board out of millions of dollars that had to then be made up higher employer premiums. All the while, AIG’s now ousted CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg collected a tidy $29,000,000 compensation package in 2003. As of 2005, Greenberg has a net worth of 3.2 billion. If I’m a New York employer with AIG as my workers’ comp carrier, I’m mad as hell. Guess what? The other workers’ compensation insurance company CEO’s are not too far behind.

Funny – Governor Pataki and the Business Council of New York State don’t mention these facts when they complain about employer workers’ compensation costs. They always blame the injured worker. Do New York employers know that the Business Council has it’s own side business as a workers’ compensation “third party administrator” – First Cardinal? How much does the First Cardinal CEO make? How much money does the Business Council make on this cozy little relationship? Hmm…

Hopefully, employers in New York State will wake up to the fact that workers’ compensation insurance companies are making money hand over foot in New York. Every day, more workers’ compensation insurance companies enter the New York market because of the lucrative profits. It’s gotten so ridiculous that even State Funds from other states are coming into the New York market. Does the New York State Business Council have a response? I’d like to see it.

The only thing more ridiculous is the Governor’s assertion that rising workers’ comp costs had something to do with the demise of Delphi upstate. No credible business analyst would back such a silly proposition. The fact is, Delphi was cooking the books and was tanking with it’s parent, General Motors. Iowans may fall for silly charades like this, but not New Yorkers, or our State Senators. Insurance company profiteering in the New York workers’ compensation market is the big problem for employers in New York State. Period!

Workers’ Compensation Alliance Leaders to Participate in Senate Roundtable

Workers’ Compensation Alliance Legislative Co-Chairs John Sciortino and Troy Rosasco will travel to Albany tomorrow to take part in the second of a series of Roundtable Discussions hosted by Senator George Maziarz, New York State Senate Labor Committee Chair, regarding Workers’ Compensation Reform. Since Workers’ Comp Reform was recently detached from the Governor’s budget bill, it appears that workers’ compensation reform will continue to be on the Albany radar screen for the rest of the year.

Also scheduled to participate in the Roundtable are: Randall Wolken, President, Central New York Manufacturing Association; Cecelia Norat, Director of State Operations for AIG; William Melchionni, Nationwide Insurance; Mark Alesse, New York State Director, National Federation of Independent Business; and Ted Potrikus, Executive Vice President, Retail Council of New York State. Members of the Senate Labor Committee are also expected to be in attendance.

Of course, the Workers’ Compensation Alliance will be advocating for a long overdue benefit increase, no caps on PPD’s (permanent partial disabilities), and expediting needed medical care for injured workers. Yet we will also be proposing a fair pharmacy benefit schedule that should save employers significant amounts of money by mandatory use of generic drugs. Surrounded by all these insurance and employer lobbyists, it looks like John and Troy have their work cut out for them!

New York State Senate Confirms Zachary S. Weiss as New Chairman of Workers’ Compensation Board

Zachary S. Weiss, Esq, a lawyer and long time confidant to Governor Eliot Spitzer, was confirmed late last night as the new Chairman of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.  See Mr. Weiss’ biography here.  The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance wishes him well in his new position and pledges to work with him and his administration to better the plight of New York’s injured workers.

Despite his new position, the Workers’ Compensation Alliance (WCA) has been working with the new Chair since earlier this year on such issues as the “Rocket Docket Task Force” while he was Special Counsel in the New York State Insurance Department.  In recent conversations with the Workers’ Compensation Alliance leadership, the new Chair has stated a strong willingness to work with injured workers and their representatives to improve a system that has taken a decidedly “employer turn” in the previous administration.   

The twin goals of speeding benefits to injured workers and lowering employers costs are attainable. For instance, eliminating costly and unnecessary medical depositions would help both injured workers and employers.  In addition, the Chair will be overseeing the implementation of revised medical and vocational guidelines to help determine an injured workers’ true level of disability and potential to return to work.

Again, the WCA welcomes Zachary “Zack” Weiss as the new Chair of the venerable and prestigious New York Workers’ Compensation Board.  He is a sharp, well seasoned professional. Injured workers need a strong advocate in their corner.

New York 9/11 First Responder Hospital Worker Bill Gives Workers 75% Workers’ Comp Benefits

Private hospital workers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics who were dispatched  to Ground Zero after 9/11 will be potentially the first workers in New York State Workers’ Compensation history to receive 75% of their lost wages, as opposed to the traditional 66 2/3% rate of compensation, based on a new bill passed last week in Albany

This is a significant victory for these forgotten heroes of 9/11 and another victory for the hospital workers’ unions in Albany.  As reported in Workers’ Comp Central:

  • >New York Workers Compensation Alliance, which includes claimants’ attorneys and other workers’ advocates, praised the compromise bill Thursday.

    Troy Rosasco, co-chairman of the alliance, said a board member of the organization helped draft the legislation.

    “It is a great victory for some of the forgotten heroes of 9/11,” Rosasco said. He said the bill will help bring parity with benefits already paid to public employees. ”

WCA Calls on NYS Workers’ Compensation Board to Publicize September 11th Registration Deadline

The September 11th attacks killed thousands of New York workers and injured tens of thousands of workers who heroically participated in rescue, recovery and clean-up activities.  In August, 2006 the Legislature added Article 8-A to the Workers’ Compensation Law.  Article 8-A permits those who participated in rescue, recovery and clean-up operations to file a WTC-12 registration form.  The current deadline to file a WTC-12 form is September 11, 2010.

The WCA, labor unions, and other organizations that protect the rights of injured workers have made extensive efforts to publicize the registration provision and to register injured workers.  Information about registering for benefits in connection with September 11th rescue, recovery, and cleanup operations is available at:

http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/SubjectNos/sn046_159.jsp

http://nycosh.org/environment_wtc/WTC/911WCrev818.pdf

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/wtc/html/home/home.shtml

http://www.wtcexams.org/

 The WCA Position.  The WCA calls on the Board to publicize the September 11th registration deadline on its web site and at hearing points, and to make WTC-12 forms readily available so that participants in rescue, recovery and clean-up operations can register and preserve their right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.