The Way

GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing

Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.

NCCI Tackles Marijuana

Aug. 23, 2017
LEAD STORY

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) released the first installment of its five-part series examining the issues surrounding the growing impact of legalizing marijuana on workers' compensation stakeholders. The first article in the series, The Marijuana Conversation: Questions Workers Compensation Insurers Are Asking, focuses on the insurance carrier perspective.

TIME OUT - WHY ARE WE CALLING THIS PLAY?

Currently, at least five states - Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New Mexico - have found that medical marijuana is allowed as a workers’ compensation treatment that requires insurer reimbursement.  However, a handful of states have laws explicitly stating that an employer or workers’ compensation insurer is not required to pay for medical marijuana.  Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, stakeholders will need to continue to navigate a state-by-state patchwork of laws.

INTERFERENCE ON OPIOIDS

With the spotlight on the opioid epidemic, stakeholders are looking at medical marijuana as a viable alternative. State Attorney Generals have been going another route and started filing lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a settlement of $4.5 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by Illinois claiming the opioid manufacturer deceptively marketed its highly addictive opioid for non-approved treatments.

BACK TO THE QUARTERBACK

The next installment of NCCI's Marijuana Conversations will focus on questions employers are asking on the impact of medical marijuana. The other installments will focus on the employee, the regulator/legislator, and the future. This is an important conversation, and we'll keep you informed.

Infectious Diseases

ZIKA

The Zika virus has seen a steep drop in the number of reported cases from 2016 to 2017. Brazil, the hardest hit country, had 205,578 Zika cases in 2016. Halfway through 2017, only 13,253 cases had been reported. In the U.S., only one locally transmitted Zika case has been reported in 2017 compared to 224 locally transmitted in 2016. So far, 2017 has seen 200 travel-related cases compared to 4,830 in 2016. Scientists contribute the drop to efforts to stamp out disease-carrying mosquitoes and the human immunity built up over the last year.

TICKS

The Connecticut Supreme Court supported a jury's decision that a private boarding school was negligible when a student became permanently disabled by a tick bite on a school field trip in China. The student contracted tick-borne encephalitis, a viral infectious disease that attacks the central nervous system, and was awarded $41.7 million in damages. The Supreme Court affirmed that Connecticut schools have a duty to warn students and parents of serious risk exposures regarding field trips.

Making Our Way Around the Country

ILLINOIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill (H.B. 2622) that would have created the Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company, a public corporation to sell workers' compensation insurance. Gov. Rauner stated the state-run workers' compensation insurance company does not address the actual cost drivers of the workers' compensation system and wants tougher standards for workers to prove an injury happened on the job and lower fees for doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. A bill (H.B. 2525) that would create new penalties against employers and prohibit insurers from charging excessive rates is still being considered by the governor.

FLOOD

President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking a previous executive order by President Barack Obama to establish a federal flood risk management standard. The Obama-era standard gave federal agencies various options to flood-proof new infrastructure projects. The order reinstated the previous flood management standard, issued by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2017 and is currently $25 million in debt.

PATH OF TOTALITY 2.0

I know we talked about the Path of Totality last week. But since it's the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1918 (and I love science), check out some of the best pictures from NASA, across the country, and Twitter. Not to worry - if you missed it, the next one is in 2024.

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