98RS HB8


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HB 8/CI (BR 19) - S. Nunn

     AN ACT relating to workers' compensation.
     Amend KRS 342.0011 to revise the definitions of "injury" and "disability" to require that an injury be based on medical evidence and supported by objective medical findings; delete the effects of the natural aging process and natural deterioration of body tissue and organ from the definition of "injury"; define "suitable employment" as a job that an employee has the skills to perform, is medically able to perform, and that does not pose a health or safety risk to the employee or others; amend the definition of "premium" for individual self-insured employers and require self-insured groups to include membership and other fees in their premium calculation; amend KRS 342.040 to eliminate the seven day waiting period for benefits to begin by requiring compensability from the first day of disability; amend KRS 342.120 to conform to phase-out of the special fund; amend KRS 342.1202 to phase-out the special fund over a three year period by reducing maximum apportionment to 30% on July 1, 1997, 20% on July 1, 1998, and to 0% on July 1, 1999; amend KRS 342.122 to freeze the 1996 special fund assessment, and to require that a portion of the coal severance tax be used to reduce additional assessments on coal for the special fund for 1997, 1998, and 1999; establish a new assessment and funding mechanism effective in the year 2000 to collect sufficient funds annually to pay annual expenditures and administrative expenses of the special fund, Department. of Workers' Claims, and the Kentucky. Workers' Compensation Funding Commission; amend KRS 342.125 to establish a four year statute of limitation on reopening workers' compensation claims; amend KRS 342.150 to increase from 4% to 12% the allowable discount rate on lump sum payments; amend KRS 342.197 to prohibit discrimination against an employee who reports workers' compensation fraud; amend KRS 342.316 to require that NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) certified "B readers" interpret X-rays for black lung; require independent medical evaluations to be conducted in contested black lung claims; specify that the special fund will not be liable for paying income benefits for claims with a date of last exposure on or after July 1, 1999; amend KRS 342.320 to limit attorney fees to $750 in uncontested cases and in awards for permanent total disability for injuries presumed to be disabling; limit other attorney fees to the difference between a rejected settlement offer and the amount recovered in an award following litigation; require administrative law judges to review as well as approve attorney fees; require a review of defense attorney fees; amend KRS 342.335 to prohibit the making of false or misleading statements about the existence of an independent contractor relationship; require that all workers' compensation fraud investigations, including workers' compensation insurance fraud, be conducted by the Department. of Workers' Claims and the Department of Insurance, or the Attorney General, rather than by the Department. of Insurance and the Attorney General; amend KRS 342.610 to eliminate a contractor's up-the-ladder liability for a subcontractor's failure to secure or maintain coverage; prohibit payments of benefits if the employee is under the influence of drugs; amend KRS 342.700 to conform; amend KRS 342.730 to increase from 100% to 110% the maximum weekly benefit for total disability; establish a presumption of total disability for certain catastrophic injuries and clarify the annual 10% offset provision at age 65; amend KRS 342.732 to permit retraining incentive benefits only for educational purposes; eliminate presumption in the black lung benefit structure, except to retain a "rebuttable" presumption for progressive massive fibrosis and other complicated or advanced cases of black lung; amend KRS 342.817 to provide the Kentucky Employer's Mutual Insurance (KEMI) a seven year period rather than a three year period in which to comply with surplus requirements of mutual insurance carriers; amend KRS 342.823 to permit rather than require KEMI to assess policyholders if its liabilities exceed assets; amend KRS 342.990 to increase the penalty for workers' compensation fraud from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony; create a new section of Subtitle 13 of KRS Chapter 304 to require KEMI to file rates and rate information, and comply with other rating requirements applicable to the competitive workers' compensation market; and amend KRS 304.13-161 to require, as a condition of licensure to conduct workers' compensation business in the Commonwealth, each insurer or agent to notify each insured of the right to appeal to the commissioner for further review of the application of the rating system.

     (Prefiled by the sponsor(s).)

     Jan 6-introduced in House
     Jan 7-to Labor and Industry (H)

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