Wednesday, May 4, 2016

LIVE from the AIS it's NCCI!

I am privileged to be at the NCCI Annual Issues Symposium this morning in Orlando. The program kicks off in earnest tomorrow and runs through Friday. But, what a great program so far!

On Wednesday morning, we heard from the new CEO of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, William Donnell. He has "hit the ground running," integrating himself into the NCCI system. Many perceive the American workers' compensation as facing many challenges. There is going to be a need for thoughtful leadership from all market segments, insurance, employees, employers, and more. It is encouraging to see Mr. Donnell engaging regulators and process participants seeking perceptions, thoughts, and prognostications. 

Mona Carter of NCCI has put together a stellar Wednesday morning program for the regulators. As an adjudicator, I have often thought (out loud) that I am not a regulator. I feel like a tourist in a foreign country sometimes in these discussions. Sure, much of these topics weave their way into litigation periodically. They are not wholly unfamiliar concepts, but fortunately in Florida we have the Division of Workers' Compensation to handle the regulatory side of things. Greg Jenkins of the Florida DWC is also here in the audience, soaking up this national perspective on what is hot in this industry.

We have heard from Tennessee and Oklahoma about issues on the legislative and reform fronts. There is much going on in these states regarding altering the way the workers' compensation systems work. Each state passed major reform this century, and transitioned to an administrative adjudication model like the vast majority of American jurisdictions. They are adjusting and adapting to the new adjudication process. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has passed the famous "opt-out" and Tennessee has seen it debated, but has not adopted it. 

There has been discussion of adverse selection, and the way that risks are pooled. Some are concerned with the potential that some groups may see over-representation of difficult risks. States appear to be paying attention to the health of carriers and their abilities to provide needed benefits to injured workers. It is heartening to know that they are focused on this.

The morning transitioned to a discussion among national leaders regarding issues like opt-out, prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP). Opt-out has recently faced some constitutional challenges. States are working on PDMP programs, and the war on senseless medication overdose and death continues. Opioids and other medications are causing harm. This affects this system in which we all deal with injuries, which are painful. These efforts to find ways to keep drugs out of the wrong hands; and, they facilitate prescriber awareness of medication volumes received by their patients.

There is a "brain drain" coming in workers' compensation and insurance generally. We face a transition period when many of the experienced leaders of workers' compensation are facing a transition to retirement. We see the age of the Millenial coming, and they will soon be the majority of our American (and worldwide) workforce. The insurance industry is struggling to adjust to recruiting and retaining Millenials to this industry. The Millenial generation is perceived as having different goals and motivations. How will our industry and profession generate interest in this world of workers' compensation, which has been so good to so many of us?

Peter Burton of NCCI did a phenomenal job steering a blue-ribbon panel through this discussion of hot topics for regulators. An eye-opening experience for all. 

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