News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Lehmans

Hennes Paynter Communications


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


BWC contemplates taking a nearly $1 billion judgment to the Ohio Supreme Court
The bureau maintains it must protect all businesses; lower court rulings say it didn't do that
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Steve Buehrer says the BWC must protect all businesses.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Nearly a billion dollars is on the line in a lawsuit filed by 270,000 Ohio businesses against the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler says it may be a while before that fight is over.

LISTEN: Short form, Kasler on what Ohio's BWC does next

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:30)


LISTEN: Short form, Kasler on what Ohio's BWC does next

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:08)


The employers, mostly small businesses -- sued the BWC, claiming that the agency overcharged them for insurance premiums for years through group-rating plans. The businesses won nearly $860 million in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court last year, and the state turned to the 8th District Court of Appeals.

Brian Wright speaks for Pay Us Back Ohio BWC, and he says by most accounts, the ruling from the appeals court was blistering. 

“The court in their opinion mentions that the appeal is really about a cabal of Bureau of Workers Compensation bureaucrats and lobbyists who are working together to rig the system.” 

Looking to a higher court
But in spite of that scathing opinion, the lawsuit may still be appealed to the state’s highest court. Steven Buehrer is the director of the BWC, and he hasn’t done many interviews about the lawsuit. He says the case deals with the BWC between 2001 and 2009 – in the Taft and Strickland administrations. That was before his boss, Gov. John Kasich, took office. But Buehrer says this case could affect policies now and going forward. 

“Really, this is a lawsuit challenging how the bureau set rates for a certain group of employers. And one of the keys to insurance principles is you’ve got to have the ability to set rates. And we believe that’s an important principle that the courts ought not to interfere in, and it may be a reason why we take this up to the Ohio Supreme Court.”

A big surplus by anybody's accounting
Complicating the situation is that the bureau is running a surplus of around $8 billion, according to Buehrer; Wright says it’s more than that. He says the BWC set aside $860 million after the ruling last year, and now the agency can really afford that judgment, with payouts ranging from a few cents to $2 million. And Wright says the businesses he speaks for are calling and e-mailing the governor’s office to let him know. 

“We’ve got employers out there who are tapping into their own 401(k)s just to keep their businesses afloat -- and thousands of others who went out of business. So I think for our members, it’s obviously a very emotional time and they’re very active right now.”

Actuarial soundness
But Buehrer says that surplus is the result of great investment and lower than anticipated medical costs, and that the premiums are based on precise actuarial calculations and aren’t intended to make money for the agency. And he says the bureau returned a billion dollars to businesses last year – ranging from $5 to several million dollars. And he maintains that businesses are paying the lowest rates in 30 years.

Buehrer says, while he understands some Ohio businesses feel they’re owed money, he has to follow the law and consider how settling the case would affect all businesses. 

“We will quickly return these dollars if that’s what the highest court in Ohio says. But right now I do want everyone to understand we’re balancing these various interests against our statutory obligations.”

The ruling from the appeals court sends back the case to the trial court for a recalculation of the restitution. The BWC will make a decision on appealing the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court by June 30.

 

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Ohio Supreme Court invalidates local fracking bans
If Ohio has their way, Fracking Wells will be planted in the courtyard of every town. That is if the State of Ohio can profit by it...for more on how the court ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University