Gov. Gary Herbert in March signed law allowing insurers to set evidence-based guidelines for opioid prescriptions. Beginning this year, insurers must by Sept. 1 each year submit report to Insurance Department on their prescription policy. Insurers may share their rules with other insurers and may use 2016 CDC guidelines for opioid chronic pain prescriptions or similar Utah guidelines. Applies to workers comp, commercial insurers, state Medicaid program and public employee insurers. >> Herbert also signed law allowing state-chartered Workers Compensation Fund to convert to mutual corporation. It must file amended articles of incorporation with the Department of Insurance by end of year. New contract for residual market must be executed by Dec. 31, 2020. DOI must solicit bids from other carriers, though Workers Compensation Fund may bid.


State Senate approves continuing “private-option” Medicaid-expansion program through June 30, 2016. It uses federal funds to buy private insurance for low-income residents. Senate also creates task force to study alternatives to the initiative, a first of its kind in the nation. Both bills in state House at press time. >> Workers Compensation Research Institute finds 63% of injured workers in state had at least one comorbid condition or had smoked for at least 10 years. Hypertension, reported by 28%, was most common comorbidity; diabetes and lung conditions were reported by 8% and 6%, respectively.


Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal includes elimination of Labor and Industry Review Commission. He wants to place oversight of workers compensation and other workplace disputes under existing Department of Workforce Development and Department of Administration’s Division of Hearings and Appeals. Says move would speed appeals and save money.


Jacqueline Cunningham to retire at end of year after 30 years at Insurance Bureau, having served as commissioner since 2011. No word on replacement at press time.


Gov. Phil Scott signs captive legislation that adds agency captives to types of permissible captive insurers that can be formed in Vermont. Law also clarifies risk retention governance standards, expands accounting systems and broadens definition of dormant captives.


Legislature passes H.B. 1944, which streamlines captive regulation by authorizing captive insurers to be organized and redomiciled as reciprocal exchanges with attorney-in-fact entities organized in Texas with subscribers affiliated with the parent under current law. Also authorizes credit for reinsurance ceded to non-affiliated and non-licensed insurance companies. >> Legislature also passes H.B. 1187, which authorizes captives to reinsure credit life and disability insurance if it is offered as part of or directly related to the operation risks of an affiliate or controlled unaffiliated business. Bill effective Sept. 1, 2017.


Gov. Bill Haslam signs Public Chapter 354, which enhances captive insurance rules to give protected cell captives more flexibility to move cells between captives and spin off individual cells into stand-alone captives. Also allows dormancy periods for captives, permitting managers to buy coverage from traditional market but reopen captive structure when advantageous.


Gov. Tom Wolf proposes new agency to consolidate oversight of public health and social and human service programs. Would nominate insurance commissioner Teresa Miller to head new agency, prospectively dubbed Department of Health and Human Services. Programs currently spread across four departments within state bureaucracy: Human Services, Health, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs.


Attorney General sues five drug manufacturers alleging misrepresentation of prescription opioid painkillers and Medicaid fraud. Seeks damages for state and consumers as well as halt to “deceptive” practices. Two California counties, Chicago, four New York counties, Mississippi and West Virginia have filed similar lawsuits


Compensation Insurance Rating Board submits overall workers comp rate decrease of about 4.5%, effective Oct. 1. >> Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered state Department of Health to ban insurers that leave state’s Affordable Care Act exchange from participating in other state programs, including Medicaid. Also directed Department of Financial Services, which oversees insurance, to require insurers to continue covering services mandated under ACA, irrespective of repeal/replace at federal level.