State House Passes Legislation Addressing WC Rate Increase
After a mid-year increase in workers’ compensation (WC) costs resulting from the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the case of Protz v. WCAB, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives late last week voted along party lines to pass legislation addressing the court’s decision.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) late last year approved the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau’s (PCRB) mid-year loss cost increase filing of +6.06 percent with an effective date of Feb. 1, 2018. This additional filing is the direct result of Protz v. WCAB.
In its decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a section of the Commonwealth’s 1996 Workers’ Compensation Act reforms, which allows employers to request Impairment Rating Evaluations (IREs) to assess an employee’s level of impairment and determine their disability status. The court ruled unconstitutional a method the Act currently provides for updates to the standards for evaluating a worker’s degree of impairment.
House Bill 1840, sponsored by House Labor and Industry Chair Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), “fixes” the Protz decision by re-establishing a provision in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act authorizing IREs, using American Medical Association impairment guides, to determine if wage-loss benefits should continue indefinitely or be limited to 500 weeks. As part of a compromise with the Wolf Administration, the legislation was amended last week to change the impairment rating threshold to be able continue to receive total disability benefits from 50 percent to 35 percent.
IA&B supports this legislation and, prior to the vote, sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging them to vote in support.
The bill now goes to the Senate where we will advocate for it to be considered when the legislature comes back from its summer recess in September.