NYS: Workers' comp changes will save $300M

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New York State Wednesday announced details of changes to its workers' compensation program that it said would save businesses and local governments $300 million a year in surcharges.

Under the Business Relief Act announced earlier this year as part of the state budget, the fees employers pay beginning next year will drop to 13.8 percent of their workers' comp premiums, from the current 18.8 percent.

The reduction is the largest since 1998, the state said.

New York employers are required to buy workers' comp premiums or have a self-insured program. The surcharges they pay help to administer the workers' compensation system.

The savings will come from several changes, the state said. One key change is the closing of the "Re-opened Case Fund," which covers old workers' comp cases. Removing assessments for that fund will save businesses $300 million a year, the state said. It said the cost of the fund had grown "exponentially while failing to serve its originally intended purpose."

Another key change standardizes what the state called the "antiquated, disjointed and overly complicated system" used to calculate employer assessments. It estimates the streamlining will mean a one-time savings of $500 million for self-insured employers, which include many municipalities and school districts.

Kevin Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, praised the changes.

"Reducing the cost burden of workers' compensation is an important step to creating a better business climate in New York," he said.

Cuomo's office recently announced changes to another key state workplace fund. It said it would replenish the unemployment benefits fund, which is insolvent because of the pressures of persistently high unemployment.

As part of that reform, employers will pay more into that fund.

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