Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2004 01:20 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 276 - ALASKA INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[Contains  mention that  HB 403,  companion bill  to SB  276, has                                                               
been heard briefly by the  committee; contains mention of support                                                               
for HB 540.]                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1739                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be  CS FOR  SENATE BILL  NO. 276(FIN),  "An Act  relating to  the                                                               
Alaska Insurance Guaranty Association;  relating to the powers of                                                               
the   Alaska   Industrial   Development  and   Export   Authority                                                               
concerning  the  association;  and  providing  for  an  effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  reminded members that the  committee briefly heard                                                               
the companion bill, HB 403, at a prior meeting.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1758                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LINDA HALL, Director, Division of Insurance, Department of                                                                      
Community & Economic Development (DCED), in presenting SB 276,                                                                  
relayed:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The  [Alaska  Insurance  Guaranty  Association]  has  a                                                                    
     purpose  to minimize  financial loss  to claimants  and                                                                    
     policyholders.      The  [Alaska   Insurance   Guaranty                                                                    
     Association  Fund],  due  to  the  insolvency  of  four                                                                    
     workers'  compensation  [insurance] carriers,  has  run                                                                    
     out of ... money. ... The  next step, when there are no                                                                    
     funds  available, is  to prorate  claims,  and in  that                                                                    
     process we  would see lost  wages and  medical benefits                                                                    
     to injured workers  prorated. ... Workers' compensation                                                                    
     is  an obligation  of the  employer;  [when the  Alaska                                                                    
     Insurance Guaranty Association runs  out of money], the                                                                    
     employer would  then inherit the  financial obligations                                                                    
     for workers' compensation benefits.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I  put in  your  packet a  ...  spreadsheet ...  [that]                                                                    
     shows a  projection of  the monies  needed to  fund the                                                                    
     [Alaska  Insurance  Guaranty  Association].   The  most                                                                    
     controversial  provision  of  this bill  has  been  the                                                                    
     assessment on  other lines.   [The] first  provision of                                                                    
     the bill  would be  to increase  the assessment  on the                                                                    
     line in  which the insolvency occurred,  which, in this                                                                    
     case,  is workers'  compensation.    That would  raise,                                                                    
     from 2 percent that [is  the] current statutory cap, to                                                                    
     4 [percent]  in times of  need.  These  assessments are                                                                    
     only made  when there is a  need for cash; they  do not                                                                    
     accumulate money, they do not keep balances.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1839                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     [For] the year 2004, the  assessment on the other lines                                                                    
     of business  would be [.19  percent] ....  To  put that                                                                    
     into  some perspective,  on a  $650  premium, ...  that                                                                    
     [.19 percent] ... would  generate [a] $1.24 assessment.                                                                    
     So we're  talking, really, a  fairly minimal  amount of                                                                    
     money and impact.   In 2005, because  there's no carry-                                                                    
     forward  money,  that  assessment on  the  other  lines                                                                    
     would be .47 percent -  less than half a percent; [the]                                                                    
     same  policy premium  of $650  would  generate a  $3.06                                                                    
     assessment.   At  that point,  that  assessment on  the                                                                    
     other lines would go away, as  you can see, when you go                                                                    
     down to  2006.   There would  no longer  be a  need for                                                                    
     that assessment.   In fact, in 2006,  the assessment on                                                                    
     the workers'  compensation account would begin  to drop                                                                    
     to  3.37 [percent],  [to] 2.48  [percent in  2007], and                                                                    
     ultimately that will also go back down.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL continued:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     And  I   would  emphasize  again  that   there  are  no                                                                    
     assessments unless  there is an analysis  by an actuary                                                                    
     determining  there is  a cash  need  projected for  the                                                                    
     upcoming year.   The only other thing I'd  like to show                                                                    
     you,  and it's  not something  I can  pass out  because                                                                    
     it's  quite confidential,  ... is  this list.   I  have                                                                    
     eight  pages here,  double  columns,  of employers  who                                                                    
     will get  back $20  million in  [workers' compensation]                                                                    
     benefit obligations.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     ... We have  a wide range of employers who  will, if we                                                                    
     don't do  something to fund  this, get  this obligation                                                                    
     back.  I  think this could put people  out of business.                                                                    
     I think  the financial obligation will  be overwhelming                                                                    
     to  Alaskan  businesses.    Today  there  are  ...  370                                                                    
     [businesses] and  579 injured  workers who  have claims                                                                    
     ....   Some of these  employers no longer  exist; there                                                                    
     will be  no place for  those employees to go  for their                                                                    
     benefits.  But  I think when we have  370 employers who                                                                    
     do   not  anticipate   getting  back   a  $20   million                                                                    
     [obligation], we need to look  at that. ... The bill in                                                                    
     front of you  is the identical bill that you  saw in HB                                                                    
     403 ....                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1985                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE surmised that SB  276 attempts to address a current                                                               
crises, and that in subsequent  years, it is anticipated that the                                                               
assessment  on other  lines will  not be  necessary though  would                                                               
still be available.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL concurred,  adding that  statute requires  an actuarial                                                               
analysis and  determination of  the projected  cash needs  of the                                                               
upcoming year  before an  assessment is allowed.   On  the bill's                                                               
proposed  statutory increase  of the  workers' compensation  line                                                               
assessment  to  4 percent,  she  said  that  it would  provide  a                                                               
mechanism by which to deal  with future similar crises should any                                                               
arise.   She  predicted that  there will  be insolvencies  in the                                                               
future,  though hopefully  not of  the magnitude  of the  current                                                               
four insurance carriers' insolvencies.   She detailed the present                                                               
market  share and  aspects of  some  companies currently  writing                                                               
workers' compensation insurance policies  in Alaska, and said she                                                               
has  no  reason to  believe  that  they  face insolvency  in  the                                                               
future.  Nonetheless,  she remarked, she is hesitant  to say that                                                               
those companies  would never  become insolvent,  and SB  276 will                                                               
provide  the tools  to  ensure  that claims  are  paid under  the                                                               
mission of the Alaska Insurance Guaranty Association.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  asked Ms. Hall  to elaborate on the  list she                                                               
referred to.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL said:                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     These  are  people who,  in  good  faith, purchased  an                                                                    
     insurance policy  from a  carrier who's  now insolvent.                                                                    
     The [Alaska  Insurance Guaranty Association]  steps in,                                                                    
     in the  case of  an insolvency -  it's the  safety net;                                                                    
     that safety  net has now  also failed and,  while there                                                                    
     would likely be an  interruption of benefits to injured                                                                    
     workers, the  financial responsibility will go  back to                                                                    
     these 370 employers  who may or may not ...  have a lot                                                                    
     of  extra   money  laying  around   to  take   on  that                                                                    
     obligation.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2150                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL, in response to question,  said she didn't know how many                                                               
of the  companies on the list  are no longer in  business nor how                                                               
many  of their  employees  are  now left  without  benefits.   In                                                               
response to further  questions, she said that  the "assigned risk                                                               
pool" is  considered the  market of last  resort; that  there are                                                               
two servicing  carriers who handle  the claims in this  pool just                                                               
as if  those claims came  from their regular clients;  that there                                                               
is a  direct obligation, in  this pool, that  insurance companies                                                               
pay  loses; and  that  this  pool is  totally  separate from  the                                                               
Alaska  Insurance Guaranty  Association,  which  comes into  play                                                               
only  in  the  case  of insolvencies  of  an  admitted  insurance                                                               
company.  She went on to say:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     We  have today,  in  the  workers' compensation  arena,                                                                    
     four  insolvent insurers;  we have  in ...  one of  the                                                                    
     other  accounts  a   company  who  wrote  predominantly                                                                    
     medical practice  who's insolvent.  So  when there's an                                                                    
     insolvency,   then  the   [Alaska  Insurance   Guaranty                                                                    
     Association] steps in  and stands in the  place of that                                                                    
     insolvent carrier to pay claims.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM asked  what  happens in  situations where  a                                                               
business buys  its own  insurance policy that  has nothing  to do                                                               
with "the pool."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL pointed out that the pool  is not an entity of the State                                                               
of  Alaska, and  that there  are 200  insurance companies  listed                                                               
that  write workers'  compensation, though  6 or  8 of  those are                                                               
active  in the  state and  are called  voluntary companies.   She                                                               
noted that sometimes a group  of businesses in a similar industry                                                               
will join together  and purchase an association  policy that will                                                               
ultimately pay dividends;  in such instances, the  rates are set,                                                               
and  any deviation  from those  rates has  to be  filed with  the                                                               
Division of Insurance, which must  approve that rate to ensure it                                                               
is actuarially  sound.   The assigned risk  pool, however,  has a                                                               
surcharge rate for people who,  typically, either because of size                                                               
of  loss  experience,  are  unable to  obtain  insurance  in  the                                                               
voluntary  market  whether its  an  association  plan or  through                                                               
another  company  that  writes  workers'  compensation  insurance                                                               
policies.  Regardless, there will  be base rates and the Division                                                               
of Insurance approves all of those rates.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL,  in  response  to   further  questions,  relayed  that                                                               
Alaska's workers'  compensation statutes make  the responsibility                                                               
for  workers'   compensation  benefits  the  obligation   of  the                                                               
employer.  This is normally  satisfied via purchase of a workers'                                                               
compensation insurance policy, though  when the insurance company                                                               
becomes  insolvent,  the  Alaska Insurance  Guaranty  Association                                                               
becomes  the  safety  net;  however,   if  the  Alaska  Insurance                                                               
Guaranty  Association fails,  the obligation  of paying  workers'                                                               
compensation benefits  comes back  to the  employer who  would be                                                               
contacted by [the state].                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 04-68, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2354                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL,  in response to  questions regarding the  accounts that                                                               
would be  assessed under SB  276, explained that there  are three                                                               
accounts  in  the  Alaska Insurance  Guaranty  Association  Fund:                                                               
workers' compensation;  auto, both  personal and  commercial; and                                                               
"other."   She relayed that 18  states have a single  account and                                                               
so any  assessments in those  states automatically come  from all                                                               
types of  insurance.  In Alaska,  the "other" account -  which is                                                               
currently being  assessed at about  .5 percent  predominately for                                                               
the  failure  of  a  medical   malpractice  insurance  carrier  -                                                               
includes  homeowners' insurance,  commercial property  insurance,                                                               
liability insurance,  and medical  malpractice insurance.   Under                                                               
SB 276,  the assessment  would be done  through the  insurer, and                                                               
the insurer  may pass the  assessment on to the  policyholder but                                                               
is not required to do so.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL,  in response to  a request, reiterated  the information                                                               
she  provided  earlier  regarding  the  current  and  anticipated                                                               
future assessments  to each  account.  She  noted that  if claims                                                               
are settled for amounts less  than what is currently anticipated,                                                               
it  will change  the  percentage  that might  be  assessed.   She                                                               
offered her hope  that the crises which SB 276  addresses will be                                                               
temporary, and  reiterated her comments regarding  the likelihood                                                               
of having to address a similar situation again.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE surmised that everyone  will end up paying, one way                                                               
or  another,  for  the   insolvencies  of  workers'  compensation                                                               
insurance carriers, and  raised the issue of  perhaps including a                                                               
sunset provision in  SB 276 in order to give  the legislature the                                                               
opportunity to  see whether  the solution proposed  by SB  276 is                                                               
actually  working and  whether the  higher assessments  are still                                                               
needed.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL  relayed that  a  sunset  provision  has not  yet  been                                                               
discussed  within  the  administration,  but agreed  to  give  it                                                               
consideration.  She  reiterated that there are  safeguards in the                                                               
Alaska Insurance Guaranty Association  Fund statutes that require                                                               
an  actuarial analysis  to determine  need before  any assessment                                                               
can be done.   Because the Alaska  Insurance Guaranty Association                                                               
does  not do  assessments for  the purpose  of keeping  a pot  of                                                               
money,  the assessments  are called  post-loss  assessments.   If                                                               
there   is  an   insolvency,   the   Alaska  Insurance   Guaranty                                                               
Association  Fund  board   meets,  receives  actuarial  analysis,                                                               
determines it  needs "X" amount  of money for the  upcoming year,                                                               
and the assessments are then based on "a percentage of premium."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2073                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL noted that one  of the reasons the workers' compensation                                                               
account generates the  smallest amount of premiums  is because it                                                               
is the  smallest line, generating  approximately $4.3  million to                                                               
$4.5  million.     The  auto  line  and  the   "other"  line,  by                                                               
comparison, generate  approximately $7.5  million each.   This is                                                               
why the Alaska Insurance Guaranty  Association cannot make up its                                                               
anticipated  shortfall solely  through the  workers' compensation                                                               
line unless it were to assess a much larger percentage.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  he'd  received  a  letter  dated                                                               
3/1/04 from  Eden Larson, President and  Chief Executive Officer,                                                               
Associated  Builders and  Contractors, Inc.,  wherein Ms.  Larson                                                               
says in part:  "The simple way  to avoid this impact is to ensure                                                               
that the change  to the workers' compensation fee  structure is a                                                               
'new and  renewal change' rather than  an 'in force' change.   If                                                               
increases  are  incorporated  in workers'  compensation  fees  at                                                               
renewal, the contractor is already  looking ahead to increases or                                                               
adjustments in that expense as he or she is bidding."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL  relayed that  such is what  will already  occur, noting                                                               
that  she has  seen  that letter  and has  reviewed  it with  the                                                               
actuary  that approves  filings.   She offered  her understanding                                                               
that the  incident that  prompted that letter  was one  in which,                                                               
approximately three  years ago,  there was  a change  in workers'                                                               
compensation benefits with the effective  date being July 1; when                                                               
a change  in benefits  is effective,  there is  also a  change in                                                               
premium, and the premium also  became effective July 1, which was                                                               
in the  middle of  construction season,  and so  contractors were                                                               
not  prepared  for what  turned  out  to  be  about a  7  percent                                                               
increase.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL relayed that this  instance has since made everyone very                                                               
careful to ensure that rates  become effective January 1 and that                                                               
changes only take place on brand  new policies or upon renewal of                                                               
existing  policies.   For example,  if an  assessment is  done in                                                               
January, but a workers' compensation  policy renews in September,                                                               
the  policy  owner will  not  get  the January  assessment  until                                                               
September.  She noted that  she responded to Ms. Larson's letter,                                                               
but is not  sure whether the general business  community is aware                                                               
that a cure for what happened three years ago is now in effect.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1887                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARTIN  PIHL,   Chairman,  Board  of  Governors,   Alaska  Timber                                                               
Insurance Exchange  (ATIE), after  mentioning that the  ATIE does                                                               
not wish to block  passage of SB 276 or HB  403, relayed that the                                                               
ATIE was  formed in  1980 as  a reciprocal  workers' compensation                                                               
company, is owned  by its policy holders,  specializes in logging                                                               
and other  higher-risk "coverages,"  has been very  successful in                                                               
promoting workplace  safety, and returns yearly  profit to policy                                                               
holders in the form of dividends.   He said that the ATIE sets it                                                               
rates conservatively high in order  to protect its policyholders'                                                               
surplus balances, knowing that the  dividend reduces the net cost                                                               
to  the policyholders.    Over  the last  ten  years, the  ATIE's                                                               
dividend has averaged  66 percent of premium;  however, for 2003,                                                               
the ATIE's profit was wiped out  by an assessment of $800,000 for                                                               
a  reallocation of  insolvent companies'  share  of the  assigned                                                               
risk pool  loses.  This  was a severe  blow to the  ATIE's policy                                                               
holders, he  remarked, particularly  given that  2003 was  one of                                                               
the  ATIE's  best  years  in  terms  of  accident  frequency  and                                                               
severity.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PIHL said  that the  ATIE has  other legitimate  and serious                                                               
concerns - which,  he posited, are shared by  all other insurance                                                               
companies  - regarding  fixes  that are  needed  by the  workers'                                                               
compensation insurance system  in order to bring  fairness to all                                                               
parties and secure  and protect coverage to injured  workers.  He                                                               
elaborated:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     We  feel we  must find  the right  bill or  platform to                                                                    
     advance these needed improvements,  and we're trying to                                                                    
     work  with  the  director   and  administration.    The                                                                    
     [workers'  compensation] system  has  been a  shipwreck                                                                    
     situation, floundering and awash  in losses for a great                                                                    
     number  of  years;  [Ms. Hall]  inherited  a  very  bad                                                                    
     situation.   The  assigned risk  pool  has operated  at                                                                    
     very substantial losses for  the last seven consecutive                                                                    
     years,  aggregating about  $60 million.   As  you know,                                                                    
     this loss  gets allocated or assessed  back against the                                                                    
     surviving insurance  companies.   This has  resulted in                                                                    
     assessments  against our  member policyholders  of $2.8                                                                    
     million -  we're fairly small.   Continuation  of these                                                                    
     hits  will impair  our capital,  and threatens  our own                                                                    
     solvency.   There is another major  insolvency pending,                                                                    
     and we  believe it's  fairly near  upon us;  [Ms. Hall]                                                                    
     can advise you.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1736                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     In  addition  to  the  funding  needs  which  [SB  276]                                                                    
     addresses, the other amendments  we feel essential are,                                                                    
     number one, to improve the  lost cost filing process in                                                                    
     rate setting.  Rates  have been terribly inadequate ...                                                                    
     particularly  in the  assigned  risk  pool.   Insurance                                                                    
     companies have  been forced to decline  coverage in the                                                                    
     open  commercial market,  forcing  insurers and  people                                                                    
     seeking insurers  to the assigned risk  pool, resulting                                                                    
     in  a  massive  expansion  of the  pool  and  its  huge                                                                    
     losses.   Fixing  the rate  structure  is addressed  by                                                                    
     House Bill  540, which we  support.  There should  be a                                                                    
     statutory mandate  that the assigned risk  pool operate                                                                    
     on a break-even basis.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     [The]  second amendment  we would  seek  is to  require                                                                    
     collateralization   of   assigned  risk   pool   [loss]                                                                    
     reserves  to protect  against  an insurers  insolvency.                                                                    
     This  can simply  be done  by requiring  the high-grade                                                                    
     investments that  are controlled by current  statute by                                                                    
     the   director's  (indisc.)   to  be   required  beyond                                                                    
     (indisc.) with a custodian in  Alaska, available to the                                                                    
     director  and  (indisc.)  insolvency.   California  and                                                                    
     Oregon require  collateralization, and if we  in Alaska                                                                    
     don't, we're  accepting the  last position  in securing                                                                    
     protection for the injured worker and the employer.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. PIHL continued:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  third   amendment  we  seek  is   that  since  all                                                                    
     policies,  including the  assigned risk  pool policies,                                                                    
     pay what has  been the 2 percent assessment  to the ...                                                                    
     [Alaska Insurance  Guaranty Association] Fund,  we feel                                                                    
     that ... an insolvent  insurer's share of assigned risk                                                                    
     pool losses should  travel as a part  of that insolvent                                                                    
     insurers bankruptcy  to the [Alaska  Insurance Guaranty                                                                    
     Association] fund,  rather than  ... get  reassessed to                                                                    
     the  remaining  insurance  companies.    This  has  all                                                                    
     occurred  out  of  our  control,  and  it's  just  very                                                                    
     unfair.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1641                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     We really  look for  fairness from the  ... government,                                                                    
     [but]  essentially the  insurance  companies have  been                                                                    
     treated  as a  deep  pocket, there  to  be assessed  to                                                                    
     cover all  losses from  (indisc.) mismanagement  of the                                                                    
     system  by  the state,  and  we  believe it's  time  to                                                                    
     address it [with]  all the needed fixes.   These points                                                                    
     that  I'm   outlining  are  covered  by   a  three-page                                                                    
     discussion outline we would be  happy to provide to the                                                                    
     committee. ...                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Again, we're  not interested in  blocking [SB  276], we                                                                    
     believe it's part  of the fix, but there's  a whole lot                                                                    
     more.   And  when it  comes to  funding, even  [SB 276]                                                                    
     isn't  the preference  of anybody,  insurance companies                                                                    
     or employers; employers are going  to pay the increased                                                                    
     assessment,  and  it's  been  out  of  the  control  of                                                                    
     insurance  companies, at  least  those  that have  been                                                                    
     operated on [a] sound basis, such  as ours.  So I thank                                                                    
     you  for the  opportunity  to testify;  I'd be  willing                                                                    
     [and] happy to answer any questions.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL mentioned  that she has Mr. Pihl's points,  and would be                                                               
happy to share her thoughts  regarding those points at the bill's                                                               
next  hearing.   For  the most  part, though  not  in total,  she                                                               
remarked, she strongly  supports the ideas that Mr.  Pihl has put                                                               
forward, one of which is in another bill.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PIHL  expressed  concern  that   some  of  the  other  bills                                                               
pertaining  to insurance  may  not pass,  and  urged that  needed                                                               
changes be  brought forth via  a vehicle  or platform that  has a                                                               
chance of succeeding.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  expressed  agreement,   and  asked  Ms.  Hall  to                                                               
consider  incorporating some  of Mr.  Pihl's suggestions  into SB                                                               
276.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1494                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL  said  she  will  consider doing  so,  but  feels  very                                                               
strongly about ensuring  that SB 276 is kept  clean and addresses                                                               
a  single,  nonpartisan issue.    Currently,  SB 276  has  strong                                                               
bipartisan  support;   therefore,  she  remarked,  she   is  very                                                               
hesitant to  make changes  to SB 276  that could  create problems                                                               
for it as it moves through the process.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  reiterated her  suggestion  to  include a  sunset                                                               
provision  in the  bill,  and relayed  that  she understands  Mr.                                                               
Pihl's  frustration  with  the current  system,  particularly  in                                                               
light of all that has been done  and proposed thus far to make it                                                               
better.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM relayed  that  as an  employer,  he is  very                                                               
disturbed by  the workers' compensation  program.  He went  on to                                                               
say:                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     It is  one of  the most  frustrating parts  of business                                                                    
     because  it's a  ... piece  of net  profit.   When [the                                                                    
     terrorist attacks of September  11, 2001] occurred, all                                                                    
     of  the  industry  nailed  us  for  it.    [It]  wasn't                                                                    
     something we  were charged with, not  something we did,                                                                    
     not  something  we caused,  not  anything,  and yet  my                                                                    
     workers'  [compensation   insurance]  policy   went  up                                                                    
     $16,000  net  ...  in  one year.    How  does  industry                                                                    
     recover that?                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  expressed   frustration  with  the  current                                                               
workers' compensation system  as it relates to  what he perceives                                                               
to  be  false  claims,  opining   that  employers  don't  get  an                                                               
opportunity  to rebut  any of  those claims.   He  also expressed                                                               
dissatisfaction with the cost  of workers' compensation insurance                                                               
premiums for small business in Alaska.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HALL said  she understands  Representative Holm's  concerns,                                                               
and acknowledged that  there are some serious  problems [with the                                                               
workers' compensation insurance system],  but noted that problems                                                               
cannot be fixed overnight.   She indicated that Alaska businesses                                                               
should be  paying the same  workers' compensation rate,  and that                                                               
the   state  does   investigate   workers'  compensation   fraud.                                                               
Therefore,  if  members become  aware  of  possible instances  of                                                               
workers' compensation fraud, they  should let the department know                                                               
so that an investigation can be  started.  "It is a huge problem;                                                               
it's a  huge problem nationally,  and I  would like very  much to                                                               
work towards solutions ....                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  expressed hope that solutions  can be found,                                                               
and made comments regarding the classification of workers.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL  noted that  classification of  workers must  follow the                                                               
rules  pertaining to  classification;  if such  is  not done,  it                                                               
constitutes premium fraud.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[SB 276 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects