Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims (DWC) Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert L. Swisher has been appointed as the Acting Commissioner of the DWC beginning April 1, 2017. Swisher has been an ALJ since 2010 and has been Chief ALJ since 2014.
The Ky. Senate has given HB 296 its second reading and returned it to the Senate Economic Development Committee. As of today, a meeting of the committee has not been scheduled.
William P. Emrick, without explanation, has been replaced as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Workers’ Claims (DWC) by Michael J. Nemes, who is Deputy Secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet. No explanation or official statement from the DWC has been issued.
A new bill relating to workers’ compensation has been introduced in the Ky. House. Plaintiff attorneys express concern about the bill and its potential reduction of injured worker benefits, especially medical benefits. It, in part, addresses recent case law regarding the statute of limitations for reopening a claim and payment of TTD benefits. The bill further addresses attorney fees, subrogation and a pharmaceutical formulary, among other topics.
A summary of the bill with a link to the complete text is set forth below:
AN ACT relating to workers’ compensation.
Amend KRS 342.020 to limit the obligation to pay medical benefits indefinitely for certain permanent partial disabilities; limit medical benefits to age 70 or four years after date of injury, whichever is later, except for permanent total awards or awards involving prosthetic devices which continue for as long as the employee is disabled; limit the number of urine drug screens for which an employer, insurer, or payment obligor is required to pay; amend KRS 342.035 to require the commissioner of the Department of Workers’ Claims to develop, adopt, and implement treatment guidelines and a pharmaceutical formulary on or before December 31, 2018; amend KRS 342.040 to reduce the amount of interest paid on awards; amend KRS 342.125 to clarify that the four-year reopening window begins only from the date of the original order granting or denying benefits; amend KRS 342.185 to provide a statute of repose for cumulative trauma claims; amend KRS 342.320 to increase limitation on attorney’s fees to $18,000; amend KRS 342.700 to extend subrogation recovery of medical expenses and delete reference to legal fees and expense; amend KRS 342.730 to allow payment of temporary total disability benefits to be offset for net wages paid to an employee during a period of light-duty work or work in an alternative job position; amend KRS 342.990 to conform; specify the applicability of substantive changes to claims arising on or after effective date of Act and remedial changes to all claims irrespective of injury date.
The new Ky. mileage reimbursement for October through November 2016 is 39 cents.
The DWC has issued the Ky. Workers’ Compensation Benefit Schedule for 2017. Click here to view the schedule.
The Kentucky Department of Finance has determined the mileage reimbursement rate for July 1 – Sept. 30, 2016 is 41¢ per mile.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has done some backpedaling with regard to changes he made to the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission in May. Specifically, Bevin has issued a new Executive Order, which rescinds his previous changes by altogether abolishing the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission, creating a new panel called the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Committee and making new appointments to that new panel.
In addition to re-naming the panel the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Committee, Bevin has reduced the number of members from 7 to 5. He has also appointed a member of the “old” workers’ compensation nominating commission, Charles McCoy, to the new committee. McCoy is a petitioner in the lawsuit filed against Bevin seeking an injunction against Bevin’s original executive order dissolving the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission. That panel was comprised of appointments of the Beshear administration. Bevin’s earlier executive order reconstituted that panel with his own appointments.
The members of the new Workers’ Compensation Nominating Committee are: Louis D. Kelly of Florence, Charles E. McCoy of Owenton, Runan S. Pendergrast of Lexington, Megan E. Mersch of Park Hills and Joshua W. Davis of Louisville.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd has “temporarily blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order abolishing the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission and then re-creating it with new members.” Shepherd said the temporary injunction will remain in effect until he issues a final judgment. An expedited hearing will take place on June 13, 2016.