Lower workers' compensation costs by 35 percent
Will make "a 35 percent reduction in workers' compensation costs."
Rates were dramatically reduced -- under Gov. Jeb Bush
Updated: Friday, January 6th, 2012 | By Becky Bowers
Fully a third of Gov. Rick Scott's promised 700,000 new jobs in seven years would come, his campaign plan said, from regulatory reform.
One plank of that regulatory reform agenda: workers' compensation costs.
"A 35 percent reduction in workers' compensation costs would save businesses approximately $2.46 billion," his plan said.
In 2000, Florida had the highest rates for workers' compensation insurance in the country, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
But by the time Scott took office, a major reform package signed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 had already sent rates plummeting more than 50 percent. The state now has the lowest rates in the Southeast, and the cheapest among the top 10 most populated states, according to OIR's most recent annual report, from December 2011.
What's changed since Scott took office? Rates have gone up an average of 8.9 percent — not the direction that Scott promised in his seven-year plan.
The good news for the state's businesses is that rates are still down 58.6 percent from 2003. The state will likely stay in the top 20 nationally for most affordable workers" compensation insurance, according to OIR.
But that's no thanks to the governor.
We asked the Governor's Office for an update on Scott's efforts to keep this promise. While the office provided written responses updating 26 other promises that were part of the same request, it didn't offer an update to this one.
Change could be on the horizon. The Florida Chamber of Commerce wants legislation this session to change the way some workers' compensation clinics repackage prescription drugs, a practice that contributed to the recent rate increase, News Service of Florida reported. That's a chance for the governor to work toward his campaign pledge — though it's unclear it would help him achieve a 35 percent reduction in rates that have already dropped 60 percent in recent years.
The governor promised significant savings in a system that's already realized dramatic reform. Florida's workers' comp system is now relatively inexpensive for employers, with healthy participation from private insurers. Rather than drop, rates have crept upward this year, with no evidence that Scott's working toward their reduction. While a push by the chamber could help fight that upward trend, it's not clear that will give Scott the reduction he banked on. We rate this promise Stalled.
Florida Division of Workers' Compensation, 2011 Annual Report, Sept. 15, 2011
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