Ohio BWC Introduces More Changes to Affect Employers
There may be light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of Ohio state funded employers who have seen their workers’ compensation premiums skyrocket since the implementation of the MIRA reserving system in 2002. The Ohio Legislature addressed employer’s concerns about the veiled MIRA system in House Bill 100, which went into effect in 2007. Legislators mandated that the BWC implement a more transparent reserving system by the 2008 rate year, which began July 1, 2008.
The BWC’s answer to HB 100 comes in the form of MIRA II, a new version of the much maligned reserving system that demonstrated no sensitivity to the uniqueness of Ohio’s workers’ compensation program. The BWC insists that MIRA II is not more of the same. In a June 19, 2008 open forum hosted by the BWC, Chief Actuarial Officer John Pedrick stated that the new MIRA II system has been designed around the payment pattern of individual claims. MIRA II has more intuitive “start and stop logic” written into the software code. In simpler terms, the software developer has built in many more rules regarding when a reserve should be placed on a claim, and when a reserve should be removed from a claim.
Here are some examples. Under the old MIRA system, the BWC would place a reserve on a claim before it has even been allowed through the Industrial Commission hearing process. With MIRA II, a reserve is not placed on a claim until the first payment is made from the claim. Similarly, the BWC used to place a reserve on an otherwise inactive claim upon the filing of a permanent partial impairment application (C92). If the permanent partial application was later denied, the employer may have been stuck with a reserve if it existed in the claim on the December 31 snapshot date, even though no award was ever paid out. With MIRA II, a reserve will not be placed until a permanent partial award is actually paid out. Additionally, if a claim has been inactive for at least 180 days prior to the filing of a C92, MIRA II will not place a reserve on the claim, even if an award is granted.
It is extremely important for employers to notify the BWC of significant events in a claim, such as a return to full duty work or a return to light duty work. As soon as the BWC is notified of a return to full duty work, MIRA II will start the clock running for 90 days, after which the reserve will be removed.
Is MIRA II “transparent” as required by HB 100? Not quite yet. The BWC plans to roll out a whole series of new web screens and downloadable reports that should be available in September 2008. The new web services will show an employer the reserve history of a claim, a weekly update to the reserve, and monthly reports showing all the payments made in a claim.
See the BWC Fact Sheet on the MIRA II reserving system at: https://www.ohiobwc.com/downloads/blankpdf/MIRAIIFactSheet.pdf.
Questions about MIRA II or any workers’ compensation issue can be addressed by the Frost Brown Todd LLC workers’ compensation department at (614)464-1211 or (513) 651-6800.
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C. Michael Shull, III focuses his practice on construction law and litigation. Michael's client representations range from casinos and ENR Top 400 contractors to design firms and subcontractors.