Citing the report of an independent actuary, the State Senate is pressing its call for another reduction in workers compensation rates. Senator Brad Henry, who authored workers compensation reform legislation this year, will make the Senate's case for a rate cut when the State Board for Property and Casualty Rates holds its annual rate hearing on Thursday, September 7th.
If state regulators follow the advice of the actuarial study, it will result in the fifth reduction in workers comp rates in the last six years.
"All of the evidence indicates that workers comp rates should be reduced again. We just want the board to examine the actuarial reports, consider all the facts and give businesses the break they deserve," said Senator Henry.
The actuarial report was commissioned by the Oklahoma Senate and performed by Allan Schwartz of AIS Risk Consultants of New Jersey. Citing improved market conditions, the report calls for a reduction of approximately 7 percent.
The Attorney General's office, which represents consumers, is also expected to recommend a rate reduction based on its own actuarial study. Even the insurance industry has acknowledged that market conditions support a rate cut.
"I think it's pretty significant when all the involved parties agree that some kind of rate reduction is justified. The question is how large the cut should be. We feel confident that with the evidence presented by the Senate and the Attorney General, the board will vote to approve the largest reduction possible," said Senator Henry
In addition to the latest actuarial study, Senator Henry pointed to a series of statistics supporting a rate reduction. Some of the positive trends include:
Another factor that is expected to reduce workers comp costs is SB 1414, the Special Indemnity Fund bailout bill authored and passed by Senator Henry this year. The American Insurance Association touted the legislation as the most significant reform accomplishment of the 2000 session.
SB 1414 is just one of several major workers comp reform packages approved by the Legislature in the last decade. The reforms have helped drive down costs through the increased use of independent medical examiners, restrictions on attorney fees, tougher fraud enforcement, job safety programs and the introduction of medical cost containment and managed care.
"Thanks to the reforms, our workers compensation system has improved tremendously. There's always room for improvement, but we have made significant progress in the last 10 years. Hopefully, regulators will recognize that and reduce rates accordingly," said Senator Henry.
Senator Henry is scheduled to appear before the State Board for Property and Casualty Rates at approximately 2:00 p.m. Thursday to argue for a rate reduction.