On November 10th, the full Executive Committee of the Colorado General Assembly voted to send seven bills aimed at reforming the Colorado workers’ compensation insurer of last resort, Pinnacol Assurance, to the full Colorado General Assembly for its consideration in the 2010 session that begins in January.
Last week, the company’s board of directors voted to support two of the bills and oppose the other five. The proposed legislation comes on the heels of the Pinnacol Interim Committee’s hearings into the company’s practices.
Their recommendations must go through the standard legislative process before becoming law.
Pinnacol Assurance supports the following Colorado workers’ compensation reform proposals:
1. Bill A – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Accountability
At the conclusion of a claim, a limited number of injured workers will be given the opportunity to complete a survey that will include questions about overall satisfaction, courtesy and the quickness of medical care delivery and claim resolution.
Companies will have to report survey results to the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
2. Bill G – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Claims Process Brochure
Requires the employer or their workers’ compensation carrier to provide injured workers with a brochure describing their rights to speedy medical treatment, benefit payment, how the claims process works and contact information of different entities.
However, the Pinnacol board voted to oppose the other five bills on grounds that it will harm their competiveness and drive up prices of Colorado workers’ compensation insurance for small businesses. They believe the following bills will pose a major roadblock to the company’s future success.
• Bill B – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Policyholder Protection Act of 2010
• Bill C – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Policyholder Protection Act of 2010
• Bill D – Pinnacol Assurance Board of Directors
• Bill E – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Benefits Knowing Penalty
• Bill F – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Conflicts of Interest
These bills represent an effort to limit the company’s reserves, double penalties for wrongful denial of claims and prohibit bonuses for employees that deny claims. Pinnacol board chair Gary Johnson claims these bills wrongly infringe on the entire workers’ compensation industry and is beyond the authority of the General Assembly.
“These bills have the potential to drive up workers’ compensation costs in Colorado and others are redundant, as well as an inappropriate intrusion of the legislature into the operations of a company that, by statute, is directed to operate as a mutual insurance company,” says Gary Johnson, chairman of Pinacaol’s board of directors.
Bookmark the Colorado workers’ compensation knowledge center and blog and check back often for updates on how each of these bills is making their way through the General Assembly early next year.