In the first half of 2019, NCCI tracked approximately 668 state and federal workers compensation bills. A total of 415 bills were in states where NCCI provides ratemaking services. As of the end of June, 84 bills were enacted.
Legislation impacting first responders continued to be a hot topic this year with 122 related bills considered in 2019. The first responder bills address compensability for certain cancers and other diseases, as well as compensability for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In 2019, at least 26 states considered legislation addressing workers compensation coverage for mental-only injuries, such as PTSD, for first responders. To date, eight states (Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas) passed legislation addressing benefits for first responders with PTSD in 2019. In addition, Utah passed legislation establishing a working group to study the compensability of mental stress claims from first responders.
Other legislative trends include bills addressing medical cost containment measures, such as fee schedules and treatment guidelines; and court/legal issues such as arbitration and subrogation. These trends are very similar to 2018’s legislative trends.
There are now 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In addition, the majority of states (33 plus DC) have legalized the medical use of marijuana, while another 14 states have legalized the use of CBD oil/nonpsychoactive forms of marijuana under certain circumstances. As of June 30, only three states (Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska) do not have any laws legalizing marijuana in some form.
During the 2019 legislative session, several states considered legislation to authorize the reimbursement of medical marijuana in workers compensation. Those states include Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. As of June 30, none of the bills passed.
Rhode Island passed legislation that does not prohibit reimbursement but provides that employers and workers compensation carriers are not required to pay for medical marijuana. The Rhode Island legislation also states that an employer may not refuse to employ or otherwise penalize a person solely for their status as a medical marijuana cardholder, with certain exceptions.
Nevada enacted legislation that prohibits an employer from denying employment because a prospective employee tests positive for marijuana in a preemployment drug screening test. The new law contains exceptions for certain prospective employees, including firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Utah passed legislation that, in part, allows certain insurers to issue workers compensation coverage to a cannabis production establishment or a medical cannabis pharmacy in the state.
In 2019, nine states considered legislation addressing prescription drugs in workers compensation. At least two states, Illinois and Nebraska, proposed adopting an evidence-based drug formulary. Other states considered legislation to restrict the use of opioids in workers compensation. Legislation proposed in New York would include medical marijuana as a “prescription drug” for workers compensation purposes.