The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) continued to sharpen its focus last week on getting back to serving the employers and injured workers of Ohio while taking additional steps to ensure the State Insurance Fund is solvent and sound.
BWC’s Interim Administrator Tina Kielmeyer, in her opening comments late last week before the Workers’ Compensation Oversight Commission, confirmed the State Insurance Fund is not only fully-funded but also contained a surplus which represents monies in excess of what’s needed to take care of all medical and financial obligations due to more than 1.9 million injured workers with open claims.
Additionally, Kielmeyer announced that “auto adjudication” has effectively been implemented. Through this process, workers who have minor injuries will have their claims automatically approved while still preserving all parties appeal rights. This will reportedly not only increase the efficiency with which claims are processed but also allow BWC staff to dedicate more time and resources to helping workers who have more serious injuries.
“I am extremely encouraged that the State Insurance Fund is not only solvent but also possesses a surplus,” Gov. Bob Taft said. “But even more importantly, I am pleased to see BWC is continuing to make great progress in caring for the state’s most valuable resource, the working men and women of Ohio.”
“While we must continue to aggressively address the serious issues surrounding our investments,” Kielmeyer said, “we must also make sure our primary focus is getting injured workers the help they need so they can not only return to work, but also return to a normal life.”
Kielmeyer also announced Ennis Knupp was to begin a complete and thorough review of the 149 current investment managers BWC is doing business with on Monday. That information will be used to assist the Governor’s Management Review Team as they conduct an independent analysis of the bureau’s investment operations.
Ennis Knupp has no affiliations with any brokerage, investment management or investment banking firms. In operation since 1981, they serve more than 140 clients with aggregate assets of $480 billion. Their focus will be in the areas of operations, performance reporting, and personnel.
In addition, BWC has also:
— generated $218 million from May’s investment returns;
— announced Lee Damsel has accepted an interim appointment as Chief Investments Officer;
— formalized the reporting structure of the investments department by requiring the Chief Investments Officer to report directly to the Administrator; and
— released all internal correspondence, memos and e-mails regarding MDL.
BWC is also working with the Management Review Team to review each and every investment made. Jointly, they will examine whether the investment is appropriate, sufficient controls are in place, and if its performance is consistent with key benchmarks. The Management Review Team will report their initial findings back to the Governor around Aug. 1.
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