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Workers' comp study raises key questions

Insurance experts have concerns about the financial projections used by lawmakers to propose changes to the law.

Published May 20, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - Insurance experts hired by the Florida Senate are questioning financial projections that lawmakers have relied on to propose sweeping changes to the state's workers' compensation law.

The study by a group of actuaries fueled new uncertainty about the proposed changes as the Legislature enters the final full week of its special session.

"The Senate has had some concerns for some time," said Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales. "The report reinforces some of those concerns."

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, widely considered the Legislature's expert on the issue, said the study raises questions about the information lawmakers used.

Insurance lobbyists have promised to lower rates by up to 15 percent if lawmakers follow a proposal by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. But Preferred Insurance Capital Consultants, hired by Senate President Jim King to examine the proposal, found little to back up that contention.

"The lack of source data and documentation of analysis makes it impossible for PICC, or any other party, to provide reasonable conclusions with any degree of precision," consultant Anthony Grippa wrote King.

A spokeswoman for NCCI said the company would review Grippa's study.

"I feel confident saying NCCI stands by its pricing methodology and feels confident that it uses generally accepted actuarial practice for this pricing material, as it does for all its pricing," said NCCI spokeswoman Cheryl Budd.

NCCI files rate requests on behalf of carriers offering workers' compensation insurance in Florida. This year, the group calculated specific savings the legislation would create.

Grippa examined each proposed change. Many times he determined that there was a "lack of documentation" and that NCCI relied to an "extensive degree on judgment."

Florida businesses pay the second-highest workers' comp rates in the nation, but injured workers receive some of the lowest benefits.

Alexander said the Senate will consider the new findings today when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets.

Advocates for workers, who have questioned the bill for months, waved the study in hopes of stopping the legislation.

"It supports what we've been saying all along," said Rosemary Eure, a lawyer who represents injured workers. "The Legislature has been chasing a number. We've been saying NCCI's numbers are unreliable, and we can't just chase numbers."

[Last modified May 20, 2003, 02:15:52]

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