Workers’ compensation group asks for 6.1 percent rate increase

Oct 4, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on October 4, 2012:

Workers’ compensation group asks for 6.1 percent rate increase

By Gray Rohrer

Rates for workers’ compensation insurance need to rise 6.1 percent next year mainly because of an increase in losses and trend projections, the National Council of Compensation Insurance told state regulators during a hearing Thursday.

Although workers compensation rates have declined since the Legislature enacted reforms in 2003, rates have gone up the past two years, including an 8.9 percent increase last year. If the full 6.1 percent increase is granted this year, the rate would still be 56 percent less than the 2003 levels.

Lori Lovgren, NCCI state relations division executive, said that while drug repackaging by doctors – physicians who dispense their own medications – continues to drive up workers’ compensation costs, the cost is down from last year. She put it down to the attention the issue is getting from the Legislature, even though bills filed the past two years to address the repackaging issue did not pass.

“(The bills) could have contributed to some changes in behavior on behalf of repackagers,” Lovgren said.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty agreed.

“I think last year’s debate shined a bright light on drug repackaging. There appears to be a dampening on some of that activity, or at least a damping in the costs,” McCarty said.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, sponsored SB 668 this year, which would have limited the fees physicians could charge for drug repackaging, but it died in the final weeks of the legislative session, even though a companion bill speeded through the House.

Bill Herrle, Florida executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said that even though costs may be going down, drug repackaging, which allows doctors to charge higher rates for dispensing prescriptions, is still hurting businesses.

“A glitch is still a glitch even if people aren’t driving as many trucks through it,” Herrle said.

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