Let’s Keep Florida’s Workers’ Comp System Working

Job creators beware — even though your business’ workers’ compensation rates decreased over recent years, a Florida Supreme Court ruling is reversing that trend — potentially pushing your rates toward the near-record levels of the early 2000s, absent a legislative remedy.

The high court’s recent action threw out Florida’s attorney fee structure — a system that was put into place to stabilize out-of-control workers’ comp rates, which at the time were among the highest in the country. In this particular case, justices agreed that a plaintiff trial lawyer should receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800.

As Florida’s advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate. That’s because job creators now face a 17.1 percent workers’ comp rate increase — a rate filing proposed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

In a state in which two of every three jobs is created by small businesses, a rate increase this significant can have a damaging impact on job creation and the economy.

Prior to 2003, Florida’s workers’ comp claims cost on average 40 percent more than the rest of the country when an attorney was involved. It was during 2003 that a united business community joined with the Florida Chamber of Commerce in successfully urging state elected leaders to address cost drivers like outrageous, higher-than-the-national-average plaintiff attorney fees and delays in getting employees the quality health care they needed and deserved.

Those reforms resulted in behavior changes: employees were able to receive important health care to return to work more quickly, while attorney fees became a bit more reasonable.

In the last 13 years, we have led efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by nearly 60 percent. Cases were settled faster, allowing injured workers to get the benefits they needed, and injured workers returned to work faster on average by 10 days.

At the Florida Chamber, we remain laser-focused on ensuring workers receive quality health care so they can return to work quickly, and that job creators aren’t stuck with a 17.1 percent plaintiff trial lawyer tax on workers’ comp.

We fully anticipated Florida’s activist court would rule in favor of plaintiff trial lawyers, and against workers and job creators.

As a result, our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders since last year, preparing them for this outcome and working with top legal minds to develop the right solution.

In addition to task force meetings, six regional membership meetings (with more to come) have already taken place, and our local chamber federation is actively engaged — assessing the impact it will have on local businesses, and joining efforts toward solutions.

At the Florida Chamber, we believe that putting job creators and injured workers first is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

Innovation is New Driving Force in Central Florida’s Economy

Say “Florida” and images of a famous mouse and citrus come to mind. While it’s true that tourism and agriculture are responsible for more than 2 million jobs in Florida, innovation is quickly becoming a key driver in Florida’s economy.

Florida’s growing high tech industries have been getting a boost from new local projects promising a more diverse economy and jobs. Florida’s High Tech Corridor Council is proud to partner with Osceola County, the University of Central Florida (UCF), University of South Florida, University of Florida and Florida International University in the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR). The organization will research and manufacture sensor and sensor-related technology.

Sensors are rapidly becoming central to everything from highly sophisticated technologies to numerous gadgets consumers rely on to manage, assist and streamline their lives.  A partnership between UCF, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others will research possibilities for sensors in fibers, such as smart clothing that can track heart levels, change color for camouflage and more.  Onlookers and partners see a great potential in ICAMR.

Another project that holds great promise is Lake Nona’s Medical City.  From medical education to biomedical science and research to state-of-the-art hospitals for children and veterans, Medical City is a star on our horizon.  In fact, it is home to a unique study known as the Lake Nona Life Project.  This long-term study of community health and wellness partners the Lake Nona Institute and Johnson & Johnson Health & Wellness Solutions Inc.

A recent Kauffman Foundation report ranked metro Orlando fourth in the nation among 40 large metros for density of high-growth, health-related companies.  Startups in health seem to be growing at a fast pace and I’d like to think Medical City has something to do with that.

As a Florida Chamber Foundation trustee, I am also excited about another plan for innovation around the state – Florida 2030.  The Florida 2030 project seeks to identify strong areas of growth for the state by way of ongoing research engaging business and community leaders in each of our 67 counties.  Everyone has a say in the future of our economy and the Florida Chamber Foundation is listening.

This is an exciting time for Florida.  There are many opportunities for other industries to join the ranks of tourism and agriculture and we will need them all for a strong economy.  It’s time we tell the world the whole story about Florida.

Randy Berridge is President of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee

Know Your Public Records Rights

In March, the Florida Legislature passed a law that changes Florida’s public records policy for businesses that contract with local or state government and helps protect businesses from being sued. Now, a request for public records must be made directly to the public agency. If the public agency does not possess the requested records, the public agency will request records from the contractor.

In a memo to Florida’s business community, Senator Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) outlines the need for businesses to understand the change in this law.

“Businesses are being sued in direct violation of the process outlined in the new law and are then being pressured into paying a cash settlement to avoid going to court. This is wrong,” writes Sen. Simpson.

Protect Your Business:

Has your business been targeted by an illegal public records request? Contact us today and let us know.

Make sure that your employees and General Counsels are aware of the statute change. Click here to view the full bill.

Florida Chamber’s Washington, D.C. Fly-In Centers Discussions on Trade, Jobs, Zika and More

Florida Chamber of Commerce members recently returned from a recent Washington, D.C.“Fly-In” supporting private-sector job creation, pushing back against bureaucratic red tape and emphasizing the importance of protecting Floridians from the Zika virus.

The Florida Chamber’s D.C. Fly-In included meetings with members of the Florida Congressional Delegation, including Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Vern Buchanan, and others. Additionally, the Florida Chamber Foundation presented Florida 2030, a two-year research program that is helping stimulate strategic thinking about Florida’s future, during a group presentation to the Florida’s Congressional Delegation.

It’s important for Florida to be represented at the federal level so that the voices of Florida job creators are heard. The Florida Chamber discussed the issues you said were important to your business, including: the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule, the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule and Clean Power Plan, the Regulatory Accountability Act, transportation infrastructure, the Trans Pacific Partnership and more.

There are several ways to learn more about, and get involved with, the Florida Chamber’s efforts:

Florida Ports Partner with Mexican Ports to Expand Global Opportunities

The Florida Chamber of Commerce today attended a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing between Florida Ports and Mexican Ports – an effort that will further strengthen Florida’s competitive edge in the global economy by expanding trade opportunities between Florida and Mexico.

The signing included representatives from: PortMiami, Port Everglades, Port Manatee, Port Panama City, Port Pensacola, Port Tampa Bay, Florida Ports Council, the Consul General of Mexico in Florida as well as Bill Johnson, President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, and Alan Becker, Vice Chair of Enterprise Florida.

The signing took place in Mexico City on the first day of the Florida Chamber’s multi-day economic development trade mission to Mexico. Taking place in coordination with Enterprise Florida, Team Florida also met today with the Governor of the state of Yucatan to discuss international trade partnership opportunities.

Mexico is currently the third largest trading partner for the United States and ranks 10th among Florida’s trading partners, with more than $1.6 billion exported to Mexico in 2015. As such, Mexico provides tremendous growth opportunities for Florida businesses.

Learn More

Join us for a Global Florida: Trade Topics and Trends webinar on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. as we discuss trade and logistics in anticipation of the Panama Canal Expansion opening on June 26.

John Medina Discusses Small Business, a Global Economy and More

“Free enterprise is not like playing a board game with a six year old,
where it seems like the rules change after every turn.”

 

–  JOHN MEDINA

Vice President of Business, Insurance, and Investment Services, First Commerce Credit Union
Florida Chamber Tallahassee Regional Board Chair

 


According to Chief Executive Magazine’s recently released 2016 Best & Worst States For Business, Florida ranks second best in business climate, right behind Texas.

On the Florida Chamber’s recent Series on Free Enterprise, John Medina, Vice President of Business, Insurance, and Investment Services, First Commerce Credit Union and Florida Chamber Tallahassee Regional Board Chair comments on the recent ranking.

“That is not a surprise at all,” said Medina. “And it’s because of obviously, the high standards and high quality of living that we have in the state but it also has to do with the business environment that we have. Now, while it’s good that we are number two in the nation, we are really a global economy. Florida is a global economy that needs to be competitive in a much larger marketplace. It’s because of organizations like the Florida Chamber that constantly advocate for a competitive business climate that we are able to create jobs and help provide opportunities for businesses to be successful in this state. Florida is very well positioned to be a highly competitive state, both nationally and globally.”

Florida’s business climate is home to many small businesses. In fact, two out of every three jobs in Florida are created by small businesses. Issues like resources and overall workforce development continue to remain on the forefront of the Florida Chamber’s mission to help Florida continue in the right direction.

Small businesses have a challenge understanding what the resources are in their community that can help them,” said Medina. “The other opportunity I think, is in the workforce development. I don’t know that a lot of folks realize that again, between FAMU, FSU, TCC, Flagler, Keiser, Lively, Pat Thomas, we have a plethora of educational resources located right here in our back yard. In particular I’m excited about the trade and certifications that we provide for employees for the labor markets in this community. A college education is great, and I encourage everyone to consider it, but the bottom line is we need folks that have trade skills and certification, that can do most of the things that small business requires us to do.”

 From incubators to programs at the many higher education institutes in Tallahassee, “this is a great location and a great region to be actively engaged in small business and entrepreneurship.”

 For Medina, free enterprise is a lot of things but must, above all, be consistent in order for our economy to thrive.

“Free enterprise is not like playing a board game with a six year old, where it seems like the rules change after every turn- basically at the end of the day the six year old is going to win every single time,” said Medina. “I think our small businesses are looking for a dynamic marketplace that is competitive, that has capitalism… but I think they are looking for a marketplace that has a modicum of predictability. Regulations, waivers, taxes- it’s extremely difficult for a small business owner to compete in this kind of marketplace without knowing what the rules of the game are and without having some level of predictability that those rules are going to remain in place or improve.”

 

Resources:

If you are a small business in need of resources or workforce, please click below:

John Hartnett Discusses International Trade and Small Business Success

“Success does not come overnight with international trade. The challenges lie in understanding the cultural differences and maintaining realistic expectations of growth trends.”

 

–  JOHN HARTNETT

Vice President of Global Business Development, Endoscopy Replacement Parts, Inc.
Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee

 

Endoscopy Replacement Parts, Inc. was recently named the Small Business Administration’s 2016 National Exporter of the Year Award and received the President’s “E” Award for U.S. Exporters.

On the Florida Chamber’s recent Series on Free Enterprise, John Hartnett, Vice President of Global Business Development at Endoscopy Replacement Parts, Inc. discusses the recent awards and what Florida businesses can do to become globally competitive.

“International trade is not easy, but it’s not overly complex either,” said Hartnett. “95 percent of consumers are overseas so there is a huge opportunity to grow business. The most important part of considering international expansion is to consider if the product is already doing well domestically, is management fully on board and willing to be patient with the international markets and are finances available to fund the expansion….Florida is privileged to have the resources of Enterprise Florida, Florida SBDC Network and U.S. Commercial Services.”

Florida’s manufacturing sector is a key driver in international trade, with the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Trade & Logistics 2.0 report showing 92 percent of Florida-origin exports are manufactured goods. Additionally, for every 10 jobs created in trade, there are 30 jobs supported by Florida export manufacturing and another 20 jobs supported in business services, transportation, etc.

“Opportunities for growth internationally in the manufacturing sector are astounding. This growth creates many high-wage, high-skilled jobs for Floridians and diversifies your client base throughout the world, making companies much more recession-proof….We have plentiful products, services, technology, brain power and agriculture that the world would want and need and we should be considering ourselves a global hub with unlimited growth potential.”

As a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, Hartnett is part of an elite group of thought leaders dedicated to finding solutions and challenges facing Florida’s future. When asked about the trends and disruptions that might occur by the year 2030, Hartnett provided the following response.

“Florida is expected to grow by over 6 million residents in the next 15 years and we must create approximately 2.1 million new jobs in that time frame to maintain the current levels of employment. Florida has never experienced a growth at this pace and it could have major implications on how we utilize our taxes, the poverty level and overall usage of our resources. However, we have an opportunity to absorb this momentous growth by focusing on smart job creation initiatives, such as targeting the sectors of international trade and logistics and creating ancillary job growth from increased global demand.”

For Hartnett, free enterprise means naturally allowing the market to determine the economic, financial and environmental concerns and structures without the rigidity of government forces.

“An organization with good management, adaptability, innovation and quality products and services allows for success in an ultra-competitive market. By having lower corporate taxes and less government involvement, Florida businesses have the resilience and fortitude to go out in the global marketplace and create incredible jobs for Floridians.”

 

Resources:

If you are a small business looking to expand into global markets or improve your workforce, please click below:

Federal Bureaucrats Create New Mandates on Businesses: Department of Labor Finalizes Overtime Rule

Today, the Department of Labor released their long anticipated overtime rule, marking yet another burdensome federal mandate created by bureaucrats that will significantly impact businesses across the state and nation.

The rule, which takes effect December 1, 2016, doubles the salary threshold for which businesses must pay overtime. Employees making less than $47,476 a year are now required to receive overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours. The White House estimates that this will cost businesses $12 billion over 10 years and impacts 4.2 million workers. The salary threshold will automatically increase every three years to the 40th percentile of the lowest salary region in the country. Based on current projections, this would result in an increase to $51,000 on January 1, 2020.

The result is that job creators will have to make tough decisions on how to control costs while examining how they classify and pay employees. Businesses can increase salaries to above the threshold, switch employees from salaried to hourly, or limit overtime hours. This new mandate will increase costs to businesses, which can actually stifle job creation, result in employees losing benefits or job classifications, and could result in some businesses increasing costs to pay for additional overtime pay.

The Florida Chamber has actively fought this new rule since it was announced last summer, including submitting comments to the Department of Labor expressing concerns with the proposed rule, which can be found here. Additionally, the Florida Chamber led a team of business owners to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with Florida’s congressional delegation on the impact of this issue to Florida businesses.

Your Opinion Matters:

How will this impact your business?  Send your comments to Carolyn Johnson.

Governor and Cabinet Proclaim May as Florida World Trade Month

Florida Chamber, Trade Partners Champion Trade’s Role in Florida’s Economy

Governor Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet today declared May as World Trade Month in Florida, presenting a resolution designating this honor to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Global trade means high-wage jobs and economic prosperity, and increasingly, is one of Florida’s top strategies for economic diversification and long-term growth. From small business exporters and manufacturers to global service providers, Florida wins when we remain committed to Florida’s trade future.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TRADE:

  • International business accounts for about 16 percent of Florida’s economy,
  • International trade supports more than 2.5 million Florida jobs, and
  • 61,000 companies in Florida export products or services.

We will be discussing these economic impacts and more at the Florida Chamber’s Florida International Trade & Investment Conference in Miami on May 16-17. Be sure to register today and join international leaders as they discuss what businesses in Florida need to know to remain globally competitive.

Protecting Floridians from Zika Outbreak

Hardly a week goes by without officials reporting another new case of the Zika virus in Florida. While all of the cases in Florida have so far been travel-related, concerns about the virus spreading are real.

With the summer mosquito season fast approaching, Florida simply can’t afford to take this situation lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation that women who are pregnant should not travel to areas with Zika is a sobering reminder that any outbreak could have a devastating impact on Florida residents and the state’s tourism industry.

The good news is that effective solutions are available to stop Zika transmitting mosquitoes. New technology developed by Oxitec helps ensure the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitos’ offspring don’t mature to adulthood. In fact, in communities where Oxitec’s technology has been deployed, there has been a 90 percent reduction in mosquitos that carry Zika, dengue and other deadly diseases.

In early March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary finding of “no significant impact” on the environment for an Oxitec pilot project in Key Haven, Florida. Before issuing their finding, the inter-agency review considered extensive trials performed in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands since 2009, as well as data from safety studies, site inspections and independent experts.

The facts are clear – there is no vaccine against Zika, and no cure for the associated microcephaly that results in an underdeveloped brain in newborns. Disrupting the transmission of this disease is vital.

At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we believe a field trial in the Florida Keys is an important step in reducing that risk. The time to act is now. The health and safety of Floridians, our visitors and our quality of life deserve no less.

David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce
Published in the Miami Herald, May 7, 2016

Preparing Today’s Learners for Tomorrow’s Career Opportunities

If you had to guess the number of open jobs in Florida, could you? It’s probably a lot more than you think. Nearly 500,000 Floridians are currently unemployed, and yet Florida has more than 260,000 open jobs – many of them in high-skill, high-wage industries.

Florida’s skills gap is a big challenge and with an additional 6 million residents expected by 2030, there is no better time to address it than now. While there is no quick fix, there are many things we can do to better match Floridians with good-paying job opportunities in their communities.

The first is to ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for success in college and career. While Florida’s statewide high school graduation rate has climbed over the past 12 years, one in five students still doesn’t graduate on time or at all. These students lose out on $250,000 in lifetime financial earnings.

While Miami-Dade has a higher graduation rate than the statewide average, 20 percent of our residents still live in poverty. Imagine what quality career training could mean in their lives.

There are many different paths to a successful career. One possible solution is to utilize programs that give students on-the-job experience and training, such as apprenticeship programs. The best part of programs like these are that workers gain new skills and apply what they learn in a professional setting, all while earning a paycheck.

It will take Florida’s business community and education leaders working together to improve our schools and workforce systems in order to give our students the best chance at success. If you are interested in collaborating on solutions to Florida’s current and future skills gap, then I hope you will join me at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2016 Learners to Earners Education Summit on June 2 in Orlando.

Together, we can prepare today’s learners to become tomorrow’s earners.

 

Carolyn Bermudez is Vice President of Operations and General Manager, Florida City Gas

Florida Chamber Receives Florida Cabinet Resolution In Recognition of 100 Years of Securing Florida’s Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Edie Ousley
(850) 521-1231
eousley@flchamber.com

TALLAHASSEE, FL (April 26, 2016) – Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet today honored the Florida Chamber of Commerce with a resolution celebrating its 100th anniversary of securing Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber was officially created on April 29, 1916 in an effort to save Florida’s business community – and the agriculture industry specifically – from an invasive cattle tick that threatened the livelihood of the state’s leading economic engine.

Governor Rick Scott said, “The Florida Chamber of Commerce works diligently to support economic growth and create opportunities for all Floridians. I am proud to recognize the Florida Chamber for their commitment to making Florida first for jobs on their 100 year anniversary today.”
“One hundred years ago, the biggest threat facing Florida’s economy was a parasite — the cattle tick,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “While the threats to Florida’s economy have changed, the Florida Chamber’s mission to secure our state’s future, create jobs and create economic opportunities remain the same. We thank the Florida Cabinet for today presenting the Florida Chamber with this resolution and we look forward to serving our state for the next 100 years.”

In the 100 years since the Florida Chamber was created:
  • Florida’s population has grown from just over 900,000 in 1916 to more than 20 million,
  • Over the past year, 1 in 12 jobs created in the U.S. were created in Florida, and
  • If Florida was a country, it would be the 18th largest economy in the world.

Click here to watch a short video on the Florida Chamber’s history.

What Others Are Saying About the Florida Chamber’s 100th Anniversary:

Pam Bondi, Attorney General

“Congratulations to the Florida Chamber on 100 years of pro-business advocacy. Mark Wilson, Marian Johnson, David Hart and all the Chamber members not only promote the well-being and stability of our state’s economy, but they also give so much back to our community through partnering with great charities and other nonprofit organizations to help make Florida the safest place to live, work and raise a family. The Chamber is the voice for business, large and small, and its members are the job creators in our state.”

Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer

“For over a century, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has combined the strengths of Florida’s business communities, leaders and lawmakers to defend the principles of free enterprise. I congratulate them on this historic milestone and wish them continued success in the next hundred years.”

Adam Putnam, Florida Agriculture Commissioner

“People come and go. Politicians come and go. Legislators come and go, businesses come and go. But it’s what we do here during our time on this earth, in this great state, to leave it better than we found it— this should be our legacy. And that’s really the legacy of the Florida Chamber. What began as a collective effort to eradicate a pest has grown into the leading voice for Florida businesses of all sizes and shapes that can come together- from main street insurance agencies, real estate offices and some of the biggest employers in the state- to find some common cause to protect the culture of problem solving that allows us to leave our state better than we found it.”

Tracy Duda Chapman, Senior Vice President/General Counsel of A. Duda & Sons, Inc., Florida Chamber Chair 2015-2016

“I am honored to be Chair of the Florida Chamber during our 100 year celebration. As a leader in the agriculture industry, knowing the Florida Chamber’s history began with an effort to protect Florida agriculture, I am excited to work toward a better, brighter and more competitive future for Florida.”

Syd Kitson, Chairman & CEO of Kitson & Partners

“The Florida Chamber has moved our state in the right direction for the past 100 years, and to this day remains a leader in our state and continues to make the difficult choices, when necessary, to secure our state’s future.”

Steve Knopik, CEO of Beall’s, Inc.

“Think of all the things that have happened over the last 100 years. I’d like to recognize the men and women who have come before us who had the foresight and the wisdom to establish the Florida Chamber of Commerce, because the men and women who over the last 10 decades that followed and those that have supported the Florida Chamber have worked hard to make it what it is today.”

Toni Jennings, former Lt. Governor, former two-term President of the Florida Senate

“What good is a good education if there is no job to go to, and what good is a job if there is not a well-educated person to fill it? That’s what should be our continuing focus on Florida and that’s a continuing focus for the Florida Chamber- making sure that they articulate that day in and day out.”

Will Weatherford, former Speaker of the Florida House, Florida Chamber 2014 Most Valuable Legislator

“We at the [Florida] Chamber of Commerce and we as people who care about the state, care about the future of our country, our hungry and people who are living amongst us in the lowest of these circumstances. Let’s give them the opportunity to have success and to embrace that free enterprise system. Nobody cares about that better than the Florida Chamber of Commerce.”

John Thrasher, Florida State University President, Florida Chamber 2010 Most Valuable Legislator

“Education has to continue to be number one, in my opinion, on our list of things that are important to us. The [Florida] Chamber has always, always, been at the forefront of making sure our education system serves our citizens and our young people.”

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Attacks Continue on Florida’s Workers’ Comp System

While the Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor the Florida Supreme Court for a decision on the three workers’ compensation cases before the Court, this week a decision was issued by the First District Court of Appeals that is disconcerting for the workers’ comp system.

Miles v City of Edgewater opens the door for other injured parties to hire their own attorneys, and for attorneys to start taking workers’ comp cases on a non-contingency basis. This could increase litigation, increase the amount of awards, and lengthen court battles.

The intent of the workers’ comp attorney fee statute is to prevent unnecessary and drawn out litigation from taking place, and ensure that claims have merit. While the result of the decision in Miles v. City of Edgewater is that the claimant or a third party has the right to contract and pay for an attorney beyond the contingency fee basis, a concern is that attorneys will prey on injured workers to pay their own fees and an increase in meritless lawsuits will occur.

It is unclear yet whether this case will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, or if this could have an impact on rates. NCCI, the state’s rating agency, will be examining the financial impact of this case in the coming weeks to determine if workers’ comp rates will need to be increased.

Take Action Now

Florida’s business climate is a key factor in businesses expanding and relocating to Florida – that means we must ensure workers’ comp rates remain affordable. The Florida Chamber’s Economic Development Task Force, which will launch in May, will discuss important business climate issues driving business decisions. To learn more and to be part of the conversation, contact Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

State Acts on Florida Chamber Recommendation to Study Workers’ Comp Cost Containment

Today, the Workers’ Compensation Three Member Panel met to adopt 2016 reimbursement manuals for health care providers, ambulatory surgical centers, and hospitals, as required by statute. After hearing the process through which the maximum reimbursable allowances are determined, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, current Chair of the Three Member Panel, made a motion that directed the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to look at possible changes to move away from a charge based system, which is subjective, to contain costs while preserving access to quality care.

In 2014, the Florida Chamber of Commerce advocated for legislation filed by Senator Alan Hays and Representative Charlie Stone to address cost drivers in the workers’ comp system by looking at a fee schedule system versus a percentage of “usual and customary charges.” The Florida Chamber was the lone member of the business community advocating for cost containment. While the DWC has made significant strides since 2014 to define usual and customary charges, other states use a fee system, such as Medicare. This study presents an opportunity to address increasing workers’ comp health care costs in the future.

The Three Member Panel adopted the three reimbursement manuals, which may be found here under notices. Next, these manuals will go through the rulemaking process and later must be ratified by the Florida Legislature due to economic impact. The cumulative impact of these three rules, if adopted and ratified, is an increase in rates of 2.8 percent. These rules would have an effective date of July 1, 2017.

Take Action Now

Florida’s business climate is a key factor in businesses expanding and relocating to Florida – that means we must ensure workers’ comp rates remain affordable. The Florida Chamber’s Economic Development Task Force will discuss important business climate issues driving business decisions. To learn more and to be part of the conversation, contact Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Property Insurance Rates Likely to Rise

Two of Florida’s largest property insurers are seeking rate increases to help offset the ever-increasing cost of fraud and abuse associated with Assignment of Benefits (AOB). Heritage Property & Casualty, Florida’s fourth largest insurer, is seeking to increase rates by nearly 15 percent, while Citizens Property Insurance, the state’s largest insurer, is also significantly increasing rates for their policyholders.

AOB is threatening Florida’s families and businesses. That’s because some unscrupulous home repair vendors and trial attorneys are taking advantage of businesses and homeowners by forcing them to “assign their benefits” before making any repairs. When the homeowner loses control of their homeowner’s insurance policy, they generally experience inflated repair costs, and costly lawsuits are filed against the insurer who questions the bill.

Bottom Line:

Inflated claims and increased legal costs are driving up the cost of homeowners insurance across Florida.

Fighting AOB, and establishing property insurance reforms, continues to be a top priority for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. At the heart of this debate – which must be settled legislatively – is the one-way attorney fee provision which allows contractors and repair vendors to sue the insurer under the homeowner’s insurance policy and collect attorney fees, regardless of the outcome.

Take Action Now

Join our efforts to help protect Florida’s families and businesses from inflated property insurance rates. Visit www.FightFraud.Today to learn more, and share this video.