HB 518 (BR 1837) - J. Turner, J. Gray, S. Alexander, H. Anderson, B. Ausmus, III, I. Branham, K. Bratcher, De. Butler, B. Colter, H. Cornett, C. Hoffman, J. Jenkins, C. Miller, C. Ratliff, B. Yonts
AN ACT relating to workers' compensation.
Amend KRS 342.0011 to revise the definition of injury to include disfigurement and dormant, pre-existing nondisabling conditions brought into disabling reality, delete exclusion of the natural aging process, and permit evidence of an injury to include medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic procedures; amend definitions of disability to include inability to perform usual and customary employment and on factors including age, qualifications and training; add definitions for "board-certified" and "B-reader" relating to x-ray evidence; amend KRS 342.020 to require payment of medical expenses for the cure or relief of the effects of an injury, and authorize employee to obtain second opinion when a managed health care physician deems surgery unnecessary; amend KRS 342.040 to delete reference to retraining incentive benefits; amend KRS 342.125 to permit use of medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic procedures to prove change of disability for reopening, permit reopening for resolution of medical dispute and temporary total disability issues, extend reopening period from 4 to 10 years and eliminate 2 year waiting period for reopening; amend KRS 342. 230 to delete arbitrators; amend KRS 342.265 to prohibit lump sum settlements for weekly benefit amounts greater than $100 rather than $10 unless there is assurance of future adequate income; amend KRS 342.267 to provide remedies for violations involving unfair claims practices under KRS 304.12-230; amend KRS 342.275 to require an administrative law judge to conduct benefit settlement conferences; amend KRS 342.315 to provide that referral for medical evaluations shall be made by an administrative law judge only for complicated or unusual medical questions, eliminate presumptive weight for evaluations done by the medical schools, and delete requirement for assessment by the Cabinet for Health Services of medical evaluations conducted by the medical schools; amend KRS 342.316 to revise application process for black lung by: requiring 2 separate x-ray examinations by board certified radiologists or B-readers, or one from each, for the first tier of black lung benefits, requiring clinical or x-ray examinations plus complete work history for other occupational disease claims, and requiring the commissioner to promulgate administrative regulations prescribing the format for medical reports; amend KRS 342.320 to revise attorney fee provision to conform to elimination of the arbitrator system by deleting the $2,000 fee at arbitrator level; provide reasonable attorney fee for legal representation in medical disputes; amend KRS 342.730 to revise permanent partial disability benefits to delete impairment grid; provide maximum permanent partial disability income benefits, where an employee returns to work at a wage equal to or greater than the employee's preinjury wage, of 66-2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 75% of the state average weekly wage, unless a greater percentage of disability is established, in which event the maximum income benefit shall be limited to two times the permanent impairment rating, payable for 425 weeks; provide maximum permanent partial disability income benefits for 425 weeks for other permanent partial disability cases, except that income benefits shall be payable for 520 weeks for disability greater than 50%; provide that nonwork-related impairment or disability or black lung claims shall not be considered in determining whether an employee is impaired or disabled in excess of 50%; eliminate termination of income benefits, but require 10 % annual reduction of benefits, when an employee qualifies for normal old-age Social Security benefits, until the benefits have been reduced by 50%; eliminate offset of workers' compensation benefits by receipt of unemployment insurance benefits; amend KRS 342.7305 to prohibit payment of income benefits for hearing loss impairment of less than 4% rather than 8% and delete requirement of automatic referral of hearing loss claims for medical evaluation; amend KRS 342.732 to revise black lung benefit schedule by deleting retraining incentive benefits, and providing: income benefits for category 1/1 and higher, excluding progressive massive fibrosis, based on 2 separate x-rays and reports, in an amount of 50% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 50% of the state average weekly wage, payable for 104 weeks; income benefits for category 1/1 or 1/2 and respiratory impairment of 55% or more but less than 80% of predicted normal values, in the amount of 66-2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 75% of the state average weekly wage, payable for 208 weeks; income benefits for category 1/1 or 1/2 with respiratory impairment of less than 55% of predicted normal values, or for category 2/1, 2/2, or 2/3 with respiratory impairment of 55% or more but less than 80% of predicted normal values, in the amount of 66-2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 75% of the state average weekly wage, payable for 425 weeks; income benefits for category 2/1, 2/2 or 2/3 and respiratory impairment of less than 55% of predicted normal values, or category 3/2 or 3/3 with respiratory impairment of 55% or more but less than 80% of predicted normal values, in an amount of 66-2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 75% of the state average weekly wage, payable for 520 weeks; income benefits for 3/2 or 3/3 with respiratory impairment of less than 55% of predicted normal values, or progressive massive fibrosis, in an amount of 66-2/3% of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 100% of the state average weekly wage, payable during disability; and prohibit payment of benefits while the employee continues to work in the mining industry; amend various sections of KRS Chapter 342 to conform to the elimination of arbitrators; and specify that certain provisions of the Act are remedial and shall be applied to all claims not adjudicated by an administrative law judge regardless of the date of injury or last exposure, and others are substantive.
HB 518 - AMENDMENTS
HCA (1, B. Yonts) - Amend KRS 342.320 to require that attorney fees for medical fees dispute be in addition to deposition costs, court reporter fees, physician expenses and other put of pocket expenses.
Feb 1-introduced in House
Feb 2-to Labor and Industry (H)
Feb 3-posted in committee
Feb 9-reported favorably, 1st reading, to Calendar with committee amendment (1)
Feb 10-2nd reading, to Rules
Feb 17-recommitted to Banking and Insurance (H)
Feb 22-posted in committee