Ohio Comp Agency Wants to Drop Delinquent Public Employers

The headlines in late 2005 about the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation were negative. "Mishandled, misguided investments, skyrocketing medical costs, and premium inequities" were how the agency's acting administrator, Tina Kielmeyer, characterized those days during testimony March 14, 2007, before a legislative panel considering BWC's funding. Kielmeyer said the agency did better last year but still needs authority to fix some current problems.

More than 280,000 businesses in Ohio pay about $2.1 billion in premiums and assessments for insurance the bureau writes. Last year, its Division of Safety and Hygiene presented more than 425 safety seminars, and its safety consultants made 33,483 site visits, she said. And 155,000 of the 167,000 new claimants last year were back to work within two months, with nearly 87 percent returning within a week of their injuries, she added.

Kielmeyer discussed four items in BWC's budget request. The agency wants to be able to lapse employers who fail to pay non-premium debts exceeding $1,000, and it also wants authority to lapse public employers that don't pay their comp premiums. Public employers currently are exempt from paying premiums on time, and this has resulted in $3 million in overdue premiums from 157 public employers as of Jan. 31, 2007, she testified. The other two requests are allowing BWC to reject businesses' incomplete policy application and clarifying BWC can charge claim costs to an employer's experience if it appeals the decision.

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