DAYTON — Southwest Ohio employers addressed concerns about workplace injury prevention, care and management Wednesday at a public forum with directors of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Don Berno, the bureau’s board liaison, conducted the roundtable discussion with three directors — Dewey Stokes, Mark Palmer and Tracie Sanchez — who represented unions, investment expertise and small business owners, respectively.
Joe Reich, a safety and risk manager for Shook Construction in Dayton, said he appreciated the opportunity to have direct input into the workers’ compensation process. “They can hear first-hand some of the issues we are dealing with on a daily basis or an annual basis,” he said.
Area employers addressed concerns that included issues with board-certified doctors approving transitional work for injured workers; the proposed use of a national workers’ compensation ratings system to benefit multi-state employers; and the cost of injured workers “double-dipping” by receiving both workers’ compensation and retirement payments.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the largest state insurance fund in the country, with nearly $2 billion in annual premiums and almost 250,000 policies. The bureau has 1 million active claims and $25 billion in investable assets. The 11 members of its board of directors are appointed by the governor and serve staggered three-year terms.
The directors discussed their accomplishments and goals, including their unanimous approval last month of Gov. John Kasich’s proposal for a $1 billion rebate to about 210,000 businesses, local governments and schools. The rebate was the result of an expanded investment portfolio, as well as added premiums and reduced costs, said Palmer, chair of the bureau’s investment committee.
A proposal in the current state budget bill would convert the bureau’s retrospective payment system to six-month advance payments to bring it in line with standard insurance practices and allow flexible payment. This new system would save private employers 2 percent and public employers 4 percent on their premiums, Berno said. The bureau would issue an additional $900 million in credits to offset transition costs.
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