Hopper Smith hired as executive director of Workers Compensation Commission. Succeeds interim executive director Patricia Sommer. The retired brigadier general, who fought in Afghanistan with his National Guard unit and served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has worked in multiple national security and public affairs positions. >> Insurance Commissioner John Doak named to Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s executive committee.


Submits 1332 Waiver for State Innovation Application to allow state reinsurance program to cover healthcare claims between $50,000 and $250,000. Estimates state reinsurance will keep premiums 10.6% lower than they’d be without the backstop and will result in a 5% decline in 2019 premiums from 2018 levels.


Department of Insurance issues Bulletin 2018-02 requiring insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to permit disclosure of most-affordable prescription drug options to consumers. Current contracts by some insurers and PBMs prohibit pharmacists from telling consumers of lower-price options. Bulletin also bars insurers and PBMs from charging consumers more for prescription drugs than they would cost without insurance coverage.


Establishes fee schedule for telemedicine services for injured workers in state. Allows healthcare providers to bill and get paid for telemedicine or telehealth services no matter where injured employee is located when services are rendered. Effective Sept. 1. >> Ryan Brannan left post as Workers Compensation Commissioner May 1 to pursue new, unnamed opportunity.


Department of Financial Services updates disaster response and recovery plan requirements for insurers in the state. Mortgage insurers, title insurers and student health plans now included in mandates. >> State Workers Compensation Board plans to issue draft increase to provider fees for workers comp medical services, effective Oct. 1. Will seek to consolidate and eliminate some workers comp administrative forms. Includes converting to use of CMS-1500 form and replacing current Workers Compensation Board treatment forms with CMS-1500, effective Jan. 1. Development of medical portal, part of 2013 Business Process Re-engineering initiative, still in plans. Will also look at expanding universe of providers authorized to treat injured workers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports legislation permitting most medical providers licensed in New York to be eligible for workers comp participation.


Angela Nelson, director of Division of Market Regulation and chief industry liaison at Department of Insurance, awarded Paul DeAngelo Memorial Teaching Award by Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society Foundation. She is active faculty presenter for IRES Foundation School, IRES CDS, webinars and other insurance organizations.


Gov. Larry Hogan signs law creating framework for healthcare reinsurance program under Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Law also requires the exchange to request ACA Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver from federal government. Required public hearings on that waiver application were ongoing at press time.


State attorney general says Great Depression-era law disallowing corporate farming doesn’t apply to medical marijuana as long as agricultural land isn’t used. State Department of Health is processing applications for marijuana growers, including large corporations. Medical marijuana law requires the plant be grown in enclosed, locked facility not visible from street or public areas.


Extends availability of transitional healthcare plans for individuals and small groups through 2019 after receiving permission from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


State House of Representatives passes bill—HB 4595—to create independent, state-overseen workers comp insurer, Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company. Would kick-start company with $10 million state loan from Workers Compensation Commission Operations Fund. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed identical bill last year.