With No Legislative Fix In Sight, Court Reinstates Workers’ Comp Rate Increase

First District Court of Appeals Officially Reinstates 14.5 Percent Increase

Just one day after lawmakers closed out the 2017 Legislative Session without fixing Florida’s broken workers’ compensation system, the First District Court of Appeals (DCA) today issued a ruling reversing a lower court’s ruling and officially reinstated the 14.5 workers’ comp rate increase  which originally took effect December of 2016.

The DCA made its ruling on the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) v. James Fee case. Fee is a workers’ comp trial attorney. Fee filed a lawsuit against NCCI and OIR arguing that they violated the Sunshine Law while determining the rate increase associated with two Florida Supreme Court rulings. Days before the rate increase was to take effect, the Leon Circuit Court invalidated the 14.5 percent workers’ comp increase under the grounds that the Sunshine Law had been violated. After the case was appealed to the First DCA, a stay was issued, allowing the rate increase to take effect. The First DCA found that NCCI and OIR complied with the multiple elements of the Sunshine Law and that the rate increase should take effect.

Unfortunately, this decision comes the day after the Florida Legislature concluded the 2017 Legislative Session without taking steps to protect job creators from this rate increase. Throughout session, NCCI and Florida’s workers’ comp ratemaking process were consistently under attack by the trial bar.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce fiercely advocated for a fix to Florida’s broken workers’ comp system, and believe that this case was designed to serve as a distraction from the real issue at hand – resolving the Florida Supreme Court decision that led to the 14.5 percent – or $1.5 billion – workers’ comp rate increase in the first place.

 

Join the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force

Support our efforts to help make workers’ comp rates affordable for job creators. Join the Florida Chamber Workers’ Compensation Task Force.

Rep. Jim Boyd Talks House Tax Package, Workers’ Comp

Florida House Tax Package Focuses on What Works for Families and Businesses

“Our tax package is simply a split between families and individuals and homeowners and businesses. Both are important to Florida. The more we can eliminate burdens on businesses, the more they’ll be able to expand and employ, and the more we can eliminate burdens on families, the more they’ll be able to have money to spend for the things that are important for them. I’m excited about our end product,” – REP. JIM BOYD, FLORIDA HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN

 

Watch Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line explaining some of the advantages of the House’s recently passed tax package. The package contains additional homestead exemptions for homeowners, sales tax holidays for families and veterans, R&D tax rollbacks and reductions to the Florida-only business rent tax.

Boyd, who, along with his colleagues in the House, also passed workers’ compensation reform earlier this week, also urged viewers and Florida Chamber members to contact their Senators in advance of Monday’s upcoming workers’ comp discussion and urge them to adopt legislation closer to the House’s.

Be the First to Know

Be among the first to know what passed, what failed, the details of Florida’s newly passed budget, and if lawmakers worked to make Florida more competitive when the Florida Chamber releases its end of session report on Friday, May 5 – the final day of the 2017 Legislative Session. Don’t miss out on this exclusive member service. Email Christi McCray today at christimccray@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber Calls on Florida Senate to Help Fix Pending Workers’ Comp Crisis

The Florida Chamber of Commerce today testified for a legislative fix to Florida’s workers’ compensation crisis during today’s Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee meeting.

“A $1.5 billion tab that is not about employee safety or protecting workers, but about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers is harmful to Florida’s competitiveness,” said CAROLYN JOHNSON, Director of Business, Economic Development & Innovation Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force believes that a legislative solution should include tying attorney fees to the amount of benefits secured for the injured worker.”

Florida’s employers are now having to foot a $1.5 billion workers’ comp bill as the result of two overreaching Florida Supreme Court decisions earlier this year declaring portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional.

“We support legislative efforts to normalize rates… to prevent future spikes so our businesses can plan for their future,” said TODD THOMSON, Vice President of Public Affairs, Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce during his testimony.

According to research from a Florida Chamber Workers’ Compensation Task Force survey, of the businesses impacted by the rate increase, 90 percent said the impact is significant. An overwhelming 96 percent of those surveyed believe that the Florida Legislature should take action to remedy the Supreme Court decisions that resulted in a 14.5 percent increase.

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, a Leon Circuit Court judge voided the 14.5 percent rate increase under the grounds that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) did not follow the requirements of the “Sunshine Law.” This decision has since been appealed, meaning the rate increase took effect on December 1, as planned. Yesterday evening, the First District Court of Appeals ruled that the 14.5 percent rate increase, which equates to $1.5 billion, will continue to be in effect while the OIR and NCCI appeal a case from the Leon Circuit Court last month.

“Many businesses are telling us that a $1.5 billion increase means they will be forced to raise prices, reduce benefits, delay hiring, or even cut existing jobs, in order to cover this increase in their premiums,” said JOHNSON. “The Florida Chamber has led the charge to lower rates more than 60 percent in the last 13 years and has helped injured workers return to work 10 days faster- we will not be distracted by trial lawyer tactics and will continue to advocate for a legislative remedy to this issue.”

 

Did You Know the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force is Working on a Solution to the $1.5 Billion Increase?

Learn more about the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force and its work on a legislative solution to the $1.5 billion increase to Florida’s business community.

Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force Takes Message to Lawmakers

Add Your Voice To These Efforts

The Florida Chamber Workers’ Compensation Task Force is leading the charge to reduce workers’ comp rates in Florida, which were recently increased by 14.5 percent as a result of two separate Florida Supreme Court rulings against the business community.

Next Tuesday, we will take the business community’s message of making workers’ comp rates affordable for job creators across to lawmakers on the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which is hosting a hearing on the issue at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Join Us and Make Your Voice Heard:

As we prepare for Tuesday’s meeting, we urge you to add your voice to our efforts by joining the Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force.