Business owners and others are pressuring the Kasich administration to order the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to repay $860 million to 270,000 employers that the courts have said were overcharged for workers’ comp coverage between 2001 and 2009.
Pay Us Back Ohio BWC, Inc., is holding press conferences statewide and asking Gov. John Kasich to drop the case and cut the checks.
Last month, the 8th District Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling from Cuyahoga County that said the BWC overcharged employers not enrolled in group ratings plans to pay for deep discounts enjoyed by businesses in the group plans.
On the opening page of its ruling, the appeals court said the case is “about a cabal of Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation bureaucrats and lobbyists for group sponsors who rigged workers’ compensation insurance premium rates for employers who participated in the BWC’s group rating plan…, it was ‘heads we win,’ and for employers who did not participate in the group rating plan… it was ‘tails you lose.’”
BWC spokeswoman Elizabeth Seufer said, “Our first obligation is to ensure the strength of the state insurance fund so that injured workers are cared for now and into the future.The issues around the San Allen case are complex, but we believe our actions were appropriate. We’re currently reviewing our options to determine the next steps.”
The state has until June 30 to appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Pay Us Back Ohio BWC says 17,263 employers in the Dayton metro area are owed $52.5 million.
Steve Risner, co-owner of HR Associates in Piqua, which is a temporary staffing agency, said his workers’ comp premiums have easily topped how much BWC pays on claims filed by his workers.
In 2012, HR Associates paid $192,491 in premiums and had $105,394 paid in actual claims, he said. Then in 2013, the company got hit with $211,414 in premiums while BWC paid $19,766 on HR Associates claims, Risner said.
“(The premiums) really are a threat to our company and it’s just not fair,” he said.
The BWC is the largest state-run workers’ compensation insurance fund in the country. It collects $1.8 billion in annual premiums and pays out roughly the same amount for lost wages and medical expenses incurred by injured workers. The system has 1.1 million open claims, including about 105,000 new ones filed each year.
The lawsuit, filed in 2007, argues that the bureau unjustly gave big discounts to employers who were part of groups and required employers not in groups to subsidize them.
The BWC has set aside $854 million in case it loses or drops the appeal.