Headline News

Sep 2012
How to Vote

The Chamber is about business success, capitalism, the free enterprise system. We exist because our business community sees a need for a voice. Collectively, our voice is about business regardless of party or position.

At a breakfast last week, FirstMerit brought Economist Dr. Ken Mayland, President of ClearView Economics LLC, for a presentation, 2012-13 Review and Preview; Understanding the Economic Outlook. The picture he presented was not positive based on statistics and data for our immediate economic outlook. Consumer spending is faltering, gas prices are rising, industrial production is flattening, employment is not growing to maintain economic growth. GDP growth is under 3% and wages are not keeping up with inflation. Not an encouraging trend. The good news is that there is some growth in certain areas such as oil and gas well drilling and the auto industry, and productivity has increased. Dr. Mayland stated that housing, energy, regulatory, fiscal and monetary policies are dragging us down. We are still facing a fiscal cliff with cuts in the tax rates, payroll tax reduction, unemployment benefits and additional expenses.

As I speak with business leaders the primary concern is uncertainty. They are somewhat reluctant to invest, hire and commit to growth with so many unknowns hanging over our economy.

As we all know, the only absolutely perfect candidate is the one that is just like us. That is not going to happen unless you are running for an office. I am not telling you how to vote, but as a business leader, employer and investor it is important that you sort through the information about each candidate and decide which economic model you believe will keep us off the cliff, help resolve the unknown and improve the economic outlook.  There are distractions on both sides that dilute the issue the Chamber’s primary concerns; jobs and employment. Which direction will lead you to say things are better four years from now?

I know there are many other interest groups and influences that impact your decision. It is up to you to determine what is important and where a candidate stands on issues for you personally and for your community, region, state and nation. Please, make certain you vote.

Candidate Interviews

Thank you to the candidates that participated in our candidate interviews with Eric Shaffer and Dave Mueller for Medina TV. The interviews should begin airing on Channel 37 the week of September 24 and we will provide a link on the Chamber’s website so you can watch them when it is convenient for you.

Ballot Issues and Answers

Do you need more information on the ballot issues to make an informed decision? On Tuesday, October 23 the Chamber will hold a lunch with tables and presentations on the local and state ballot issues. This is your opportunity to get the facts and ask questions and still gives you time for early voting. The lunch is from 11:30 to 1 pm at Weymouth Country Club for $16.00. Please RSVP at www.medinaohchamber.com.

BWC Director Stephen Buehrer

Last month we had the honor of hosting Stephen  Buehrer, Director of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation at our Safety Council. Mr. Buehrer spoke to a room of about 200 about changes in the BWC. He explained that Gov. Kasich has given a mandate to the BWC to “improve Ohio’s workers’ compensation system so that it is no longer a barrier to economic growth”.  Some of the changes included:

  • Saved Ohio’s private employers $130 million in premiums over two years by reducing average base rates by 4 percent from the 2011 policy year.
  • Reduced public employer rates by 5 percent, saving local governments $22 million a year.
  • Saved an additional $80 million by reducing our budget by 12 percent over this biennium.
  • Created the Grow Ohio Program to help boost economic development.  The program allows new employers to save up to 53 percent on workers’ compensation premiums.
  • As part of the Lt. Governor’s Common Sense Initiative, BWC established a one-time forgiveness program that waives penalties and interest for first-time lapsed premium.
  • Created Destination: Excellence, a new rating plan that aims to improve return-to-work rates by rewarding employers for building a risk management plan that focuses on safety, prevention, and returning those who are injured to their jobs more quickly. Nearly 5,000 employers signed up during its first enrollment period.
  • Promoted workplace safety by expanding the safety council rebate program, which rewards employers for reducing workplace accidents, as well as by creating a $4 million wellness grant program to help employers meet the challenges related to rising incidences of obesity and chronic disease, as well as an aging workforce—all factors that contribute to workplace injuries and slow the recovery of injured workers.
  • Increased funding that supports Ohio’s 80 safety councils by 10 percent.
  • Improved Pharmacy Management to ensure workers are being prescribed drugs that help, not hinder, their recovery.
    • Created the first-ever formulary, which will save an estimated savings of $15 million in its first 18 months. Early data show the number of narcotics prescribed to injured workers by decreased by 12 percent, or 1.1 million doses, in the first three months following the full implementation of the formulary.
    • Initiated measures to ensure BWC will only cover drugs related to the specific injury.
    • Changed rules to prohibit decertified providers from prescribing drugs for injured workers.
    • Established a lock-in program to improve the safety of medication prescribed to injured workers and limit the practice of doctor and pharmacy shopping.
  • Emphasized fraud department efforts and broadened the focus to all types of fraud.
    • First-ever attempt to close a non-compliant business through an injunction.
    • Decertified one of the state’s most prolific providers for inappropriately prescribing narcotics.
      • From January, 2011 to present, BWC’s Special Investigations Department obtained 191 convictions, identifying a total of $85.9 million in savings for the State Insurance Fund. We receive a 6-1 return on investment in Fraud detection.

Posted by Susan Murawski on September 18, 2012 at 2:27 PM
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