Cheryl Wilke Speaks With CLM Magazine About Workers' Comp Issues to Watch in 2024
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (February 8, 2024) – Fort Lauderdale Managing Partner Cheryl Wilke was recently quoted in a CLM Magazine article about insurance executives' main concerns in the workers' compensation industry for 2024, as detailed in a survey conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
The article, titled "NCCI Survey Reveals Insurance Executives' Top Workers' Comp Concerns," delves into the results of the NCCI's recently conducted annual Carrier Executive Survey. Insurance executives who responded to the survey indicated that medical inflation, the shifting workplace and workforce, economic uncertainty, and rate adequacy were among their main concerns in the workers' compensation industry for this year. Of those issues, medical inflation and the shifting workplace and workforce were of most concern to executives, according to the survey.
Opining on medical inflation, which refers to the steady rise in the cost of medical services over time, Ms. Wilke noted that the "focus by employers and carriers on safety and accident prevention has resulted in a measurable decrease in the frequency of injuries and claims," but unfortunately, "the continuing increase in medical costs has offset much of the benefit of the reduction in frequency."
"Employers and carriers will continue to search for meaningful ways to reduce medical cost but remain compliant with the statutory requirements to provide accessible care to employees," she said.
In addition, Ms. Wilke told CLM Magazine that, from "a carrier perspective, providing telemedicine services separate from nurse case management in those venues were allowed and finding ways to capitalize on pharmacy management will remain important investments for reduction in overall claim cost.”
Ms. Wilke further observed that litigation is likely to arise in 2024 around the question of whether weight loss injections and medications are compensable via the workers' compensation system.
"Specifically, for those claimants whose weight is a 'hinderance or obstacle' to their medical care for compensable injuries, it is likely that claimant’s counsel will seek to have weight loss drugs and injections authorized and paid for through the workers’ compensation system," she explained. "In some respects, this may be less expensive than the cost of weight loss surgery, which in some forums has been ordered to allow for surgery. However, weight loss for the treatment of non-surgical issues such as knee, hip and lumbar rehabilitation may be demanded by claimant’s counsel. This is anticipated to be a key litigation issue this year.”
Finally, with respect to the impact of the shifting workplace and workforce on the workers' compensation industry, Ms. Wilke observed that the "transformation to a ‘work from home’ and Zoom workforce will continue to reduce claim frequency by eliminated travel and facilities risk.”
"However, there has also been a sharp increase in psychological claims in those states which allow those claim[s] independent from a physical injury," she concluded.
Ms. Wilke splits her time between Lewis Brisbois' Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles offices. She is Vice Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice and a member of the Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practice. Ms. Wilke specializes in Employment Law as well as Government Contractor Compliance and Business Litigation for mid-market and national businesses. In addition, she has a wide range of experience in federal and state courts in all types of commercial litigation.
Learn more about Lewis Brisbois' Workers' Compensation capabilities here.
Read the full CLM Magazine article here.