2010 saw a flurry of activity at the statehouse regarding workers’ compensation in Colorado. Lawmakers made several key changes to our state’s laws protecting injured workers. We’ll outline a few of the major ones affecting injured workers below.
House Bill 10-1038 – New disclosure requirements for employers and insurers
Signed by Gov. Ritter on May 26th and effective upon his signature, this bill adds a subsection to the notice provision adding the requirement that an employer or insurer provide an informational brochure describing the claims process and inform the claimant of their rights. The brochure must be provided when a claim is either admitted or denied.
Senate Bill 10-011 – Additional disclosures and crackdown on bonuses
Effective July 1st, section 1 of this bill provides the opportunity for parties to a Division Independent Medical Evaluation (DIME) to request a potential physician disclose any business, employment or financial relationships between themselves and any entity affiliated with the physician and parties to the claim. This rule is meant to help parties better decide which physician to choose.
Section 2 of this bill, which took effect when the governor signed it on May 27th, prohibits insurers, their contractors, healthcare providers or employees from receiving financial benefits for how many claims they admit or deny, number of days for the injured worker to reach their Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), the number of medical/diagnostic treatments approved or any other criteria that is intended to encourage violation of this new statute.
Senate Bill 10-013 – Giving injured workers additional avenue for grievances
Signed by the governor on May 27th and effective July 1st, this bill requires insurers conduct an exit survey upon closure of a claim. Insurers are supposed to coordinate the format and manner of the survey with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Surveys must include questions regarding courtesy, promptness of care, claim handling, resolution of issues and general satisfaction with the experience. Also mandates the insurer maintain the procedures for filing a complaint with the Division on their website.
Senate Bill 10-187 – Modifications to “average weekly wage” calculations
Signed on May 27th and effective on July 1st, this bill amends or adds to current workers’ compensation statutes. First, a worker’s average weekly wage calculation cannot include any indigent health care programs like Medicaid. Also, the definition of “at the time of injury” in regard to wages was tweaked a bit to refer to the wage on the date of accident for purposes of determining the average weekly wage.
These are just a few of the bills regarding workers’ comp passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Others deal exclusively with Pinnacol Assurance and others. We’ll dive more into that later on.