Capitol Week-in-Review – October 26, 2017

OCI Approves Worker’s Compensation Premium Credit for Hiring Apprentices

Late last month, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) approved the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Credit Program as proposed by the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB). The program will benefit employers who hire and currently employ an apprentice through the state’s Registered Apprenticeship program.

This new program will offer a 2% premium credit up to $2,500 on an employer’s Worker’s Compensation premium if they employ an apprentice through the Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. The credit would be optional for policies written in the voluntary market and mandatory for companies in the Insurance Pool effective October 1, 2018.

Members should contact their individual insurance carrier for details. Questions about the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Credit Program can be directed to the Wisconsin Compensation Ratings Bureau at 262-796-4540.

Federal Health Care Law Update

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has released information and guidance on the 2018 Open Enrollment period for Wisconsinites enrolled in health insurance plans offered through the federal health insurance exchange. The relevant details are:

  • Open Enrollment runs from November 1, 2017 until December 15, 2017. Coverage begins on January 1, 2018. Individuals seeking coverage under an exchange-offered plan should sign up before December 15, or risk being locked out of the individual insurance market until 2018. Individuals facing a loss of their group coverage or other special situations may be eligible for special enrollment periods.
  • Anthem Blue Cross\Blue Shield, Molina Healthcare and Health Tradition Health Plans will not be offering plans through the health insurance exchange for 2018. According to OCI, about 75,000 Wisconsin residents will be impacted. The federal government will assign these individuals to a new health insurer if the individual does not purchase coverage through the exchange. This process is called “alternative enrollment.” To avoid alternative enrollment, impacted individuals are encouraged to explore their options and shop around for coverage.

State of Wisconsin Ends Fiscal Year with $579 million Surplus

State law requires the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) to prepare and publish a comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The CAFR provides a full accounting of incoming tax revenues and the expenditure of those revenues for each fiscal year.

Last Monday, the DOA published the 2017 CAFR for fiscal year which ended on June 30. The highlights from the report are:

  • Tax revenues for FY 2017 were $15.518 billion, an increase of $420 million or 2.8% from the previous year;
  • Taxpayer-funded expenditures for FY 2017 were $41 million less than the budgeted expenditure allocation;
  • The State of Wisconsin began FY 2017 with a $331 million surplus and ended the fiscal year with a $579 million surplus; and
  • At the close of FY 2017, the balance in the state’s “Rainy Day” Fund was $282.9 million.

A sizable surplus and nearly $300 million set aside in the “Rainy Day” fund leaves the State of Wisconsin well-positioned to address near-term fluctuations in revenue growth and/or state agency spending.