As we work our way through the first quarter of 2016, we wanted to highlight two timely trends that may likely impact workers’ compensation this year—and possibly for years to come.

Politics: How Might The 2016 Election Impact Workers’ Compensation Laws?

Well, things certainly have gotten interesting in the 2016 presidential race…

The primary season, once viewed as a mere formality for Democrats, has turned into a battle of attrition between two tough-nosed competitors, the once-presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and the hard-charging Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has shaken the Republican establishment to its core, and that story, while certainly incomplete, may prove to be one of the more compelling ones in American political history.

From our perspective at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., we take a keen interest in how all this affects workers’ compensation laws. And depending on who prevails in November, effects will be felt.

Currently, 11 states elect insurance commissioners, while 39 have appointed insurance commissioners. Additionally, 12 gubernatorial seats are to be decided in the November election. The industry should take heed, as these changes can significantly influence the workers’ compensation market.

As the political wheel churns, business groups will advocate for new laws governing the practice of consumer litigation funding. It’s been reported that at least 15 states will consider whether to treat money for personal injury lawsuits as loans, similar to a measure already on Colorado’s books, according to Andrew Wynn, senior director of state legislative affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.

Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act Cadillac tax extension has been pushed to 2020. But health reform will likely be revised by a new president. And given the more than $700 billion in mergers and acquisition activity last year by pharmaceutical and health insurers, industry consolidation within the scope of the ACA will likely continue.

Federalism

Will we begin to see the involvement of the federal government in state workers’ compensation systems? Some say we may, and they point to an n October 2015 letter penned by 10 high-ranking Democrats on several important Senate and House committees. In this letter, the lawmakers asked the Department of Labor to conduct a critical review of state workers’ compensation systems.

While this may signal such a trend, there are those who argue that the federal government already has its hand in workers’ compensation. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration impacts workers’ compensation in several ways. And, the Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance is a federal law that affects the workers’ compensation system.

Potential interest by federal lawmakers on having a hand in workers’ compensation may be traceable in part to the broad differences in benefits between states. Additionally, Social Security could play a role as well; specifically, workers who are permanently disabled migrate off workers’ compensation and onto Social Security disability. Given solvency concerns surrounding Social Security, lawmakers may look for strategies that can help to keep long-term workers’ compensation claims away from the federal government. Stay tuned.

The attorneys at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. will continue to actively monitor legislation that affects Ohio consumers and businesses. In the event you are hurt at work, or terminated after reporting a workers’ compensation injury, you need to seek immediate legal advice. Contact the Ohio workers comp lawyers at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855)GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.