It wasn’t long ago that the North Carolina Supreme Court nearly decimated the hard-fought workers’ compensation reforms of 2011. Thankfully, the General Assembly passed legislation clarifying the reforms following the aligned business community’s swift advocacy efforts. This kept the Court’s liability-expanding ruling from going into effect – a necessary action to ensure North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system continues providing positive outcomes for the injured and their employers.
The 2011 reforms restored balance in a no-fault system, made sure workers received timely access to benefits, and drove costs down. Since that time, North Carolina’s job creators have watched their workers’ compensation costs drop year after year. Just last month, the North Carolina Rate Bureau announced another rate reduction for 2018, this time by an average 12.5%. While workers’ compensation costs continue to fall for job creators across the state, we remain focused on advocating for comprehensive solutions to increase certainty and decrease employer costs. As part of that commitment, we joined members of our aligned business community in submitting comments on the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s proposed rule changes concerning the fee schedule for ambulatory surgical centers just last week. Ambulatory surgical centers have fought the Commission’s efforts to bring their fees in-line with those paid for other services and by adopting the latest rule change “the IC has in fact returned stability to the workers’ compensation system going forward, rather than leaving businesses, insurers and state and local governments in limbo and a great deal of uncertainty while a final decision on past rulemaking is awaited from the North Carolina Court of Appeals.”
It is clear that North Carolina’s workers’ compensation reforms are working as expected, saving job creators on their bottom lines. As indicated by this research compiled by UWC, North Carolina’s medical benefit cost rate has fallen significantly since the passage of the 2011 reforms, improving the state’s ranking to 15th in the nation. However, there is more that can be done to reduce costs and improve predictability in the system. North Carolina needs a workers’ compensation system that works for injured employees and their employers, which is why we will continue to fight for reforms that strengthen our workers’ compensation system.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber