Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rebates coming
By Steve Buehrer
The economy in Northeast Ohio can expect to see a cash infusion of more than $365 million in the wake of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors approval of Gov. John Kasich’s $1 billion rebate plan. Businesses and local governments should be on the lookout for their checks.
The rebate is part of a three-pronged approach to making BWC a partner in Ohio’s economic resurgence. In approving the rebates, we’ve accomplished step one. Step two is tripling our safety grant program and step three is seeking legislative approval to modernize BWC billing practices.
This proposal builds on our ongoing efforts to prevent accidents, improve injured worker care and keep rates low and stable for employers. Over the past three years, private employer premiums have been reduced by $224 million and public employer rates have been reduced to their lowest level in 30 years. At the same time, we’ve created a wellness grant program, improved claims management and instituted better drug management policies.
Now, thanks to prudent management, strong investments and safer workplaces, BWC’s net assets have grown to the point where we can give back to the businesses and workers we serve while still maintaining a sound balance to pay for future costs.
The $1 billion in rebates will help stimulate the economy and includes $113 million to help local governments and schools.
We will also be creating a robust safety campaign, tripling funding for BWC’s safety and wellness grant programs from $5 million to $15 million. These grants have a proven track record of improving safety. Companies that used them saw a 66 percent decline in their number of claims. That means safer workers and lower workers’ comp costs.
Finally, we are asking the legislature to allow BWC to switch from billing employers in arrears to billing in advance. This common sense move has many advantages, including a reduction in rates of 2 percent for private employers and 4 percent for public employers, more flexible payment options and better employer compliance. If approved, BWC would issue an estimated $900 million credit to employers to ease the transition.
I am proud of this plan. It helps all of Ohio by putting $1 billion directly into our economy, reforming BWC to further strengthen our economy and ensuring more Ohio workers safely return home to family, friends and their community.
Steve Buehrer is administrator/CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
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