Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company hosted a forum to discuss workers’ compensation costs at MACo’s Summer Conference for all county elected officials, administrators, and human resources personnel. Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, a MACo Board member, moderated the panel discussion.
Carmine D’Alessandro who runs the legal department at Chesapeake shared some information about workers’ compensation presumptions. According to Carmine:
- The Maryland General Assembly has determined that certain medical issues are presumed related to public safety jobs, including the jobs of firefighter and police officer. The issues become rebuttable presumptions under the law, meaning the employer has the responsibility of showing the issue is not related to the job, or the employer is responsible for the costs associated with treatment.
- Presumptions for firefighters include cancers related diagnoses of Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, testicular, rectal, throat, breast, brain cancers and non-cancer related heart disease, hypertension, and lung disease.
- Once a person qualifies for a presumption, that presumption stays with them even if after that person leaves the job. This fact can lead to mushrooming costs for state and local governments.
Ms. Klein, Director of Safety Servicesshard tips on how to avoid claims through strong safety programs. She highlighted the importance of personal protective equipment for firefighters, and Chesapeake’s work consulting firefighters. She also discussed how pre-employment medical screenings with specific job information provided to the doctor can help ensure new hires are physically qualified for employment. She recommended the use of wellness programs including exercise and stretching programs, healthy snacks, and the use of stairs around the workplace.
Dr. Fisher of Chesapeake described the growth of specialty drugs for certain diseases or cancer, noting a new drug to treat hepatitis that was introduced to the market last year. These drugs are very expensive, for example, some cancer medications have increased 200% each year. He counseled that medication costs may be contained if patients willingly agree to switch to generic drugs, where generic drugs are available.
The Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company (formerly the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund – IWIF) currently works with nine Maryland counties.