News Digest 1-8-19

Quote of the day

“We don’t want greater burden to be shifted (to injured workers) … at the same time they’re dealing with their actual medical health.”
Wisconsin state Rep. Eric Barlow, co-chairman of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, regarding a bill to protect injured workers from high air ambulance costs
KPVI (Pocatello, Idaho)

Chicago mayor orders audit of workers’ comp program
Chicago mayor Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday ordered an outside audit of the city’s $100 million annually workers’ compensation program that will review practices and management and identify potential waste, fraud or abuse, according to a news release. The workers’ comp program was previously handled by the city’s longest-serving alderman, Edward Burke, who stepped down Friday as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee after being charged with attempted extortion. Chicago Tribune

Injured Wyoming workers may be protected from costly air ambulance bills
The average cost of a flight charged by the largest air ambulance company in the U.S. jumped 283 percent between 2007 and 2016. A bill in the Wyoming legislature that is presently limited to state workers’ compensation claims would provide air ambulance companies with two payment choices and is intended to protect injured workers from the high costs of the service. KPVI (Pocatello, Idaho)

New York: Cuomo announces CARP grants
Just prior to the new year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced more than $13.5 million in grants to 29 district attorneys’ offices, under the Crimes Against Revenue Program. The grants fund forensic accountants, investigators and assistant district attorneys who build welfare fraud and tax evasion cases for prosecution, and also target Medicaid, unemployment and workers’ compensation fraud, according to the governor’s office. WENY (Horseheads, N.Y.)

Second lawsuit filed out of 2018 crushing incident near Buffalo
The wife of the second worker who died in a workplace accident last June at XPO Logistics in Lockport, New York has filed a lawsuit against Du Pont, alleging the company’s negligence caused his death. The two men were crushed to death when 8,800 pounds of countertop material manufactured by DuPont collapsed inside a truck they were unloading. Niagara Gazette

Ohio fire departments to receive grants from BWC
More than 60 fire departments in Ohio will share $693,000 in grants for the purchase of safety gear, exhaust systems, and specialized washing machines, under the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation’s Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program. WMFD (Mansfield, Ohio)

Pennsylvania commish asks workers’ comp insurers to pay back small biz
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman recently urged workers’ compensation insurance providers to reimburse any Pennsylvania businesses that were overcharged since last April, possibly as a result of a loss costs data error. The commissioner has approved a change that will fix the error as of January 1, 2019 but does not require insurance companies to reimburse businesses for the overpayments. Pennsylvania Business Report

South Carolina workers’ comp law ends asbestos claim
The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina recently dismissed a complaint after finding the plaintiff was a statutory employee for purposes of the state’s workers’ compensation law. Chicago Daily Law Bulletin [may require registration]

Injured worker sues construction contractor for more than $1M
A construction worker who fell from the second story at a Houston jobsite just over a year ago and allegedly suffered a traumatic brain injury is seeking more than $1 million from a construction company. The suit alleges lack of safety equipment, proper training and supervision. SE Texas Record