Legislation to Federal Workers' Compensation Laws Introduced

SIIA's Government Relations Staff would like to make SIIA's workers' compensation members aware of potentially harmful legislation for the industry that has just been introduced. HR 623, introduced by Representative Joe Baca (D-CA-43), could open the door to a federalization of workers' compensation laws.

Summary of H.R. 623:
The legislation would establish a national commission to review the workers' compensation laws of the fifty states. The 14-member body would determine whether the workers' compensation laws of each state provide prompt and equitable systems of compensation as well as medical care for work-related injuries. The commission will also study and evaluate whether additional remedies should be recommended to ensure prompt and good faith payment of benefits and medical care to injured workers and their families.

Specifically, the commission will study and evaluate:

  1. The amount of permanent and temporary disability benefits and the criteria for determining the maximum limitations of such benefits or the elimination of such maximum limitations
  2. State workers' compensation laws in order to determine if, and to ensure that, such laws provide an adequate, prompt, and equitable system of compensation and medical care for injuries or death arising in the course of employment
  3. Whether other adequate remedies are available to ensure the prompt payment of benefits and to reduce or eliminate bad faith delays in payments of benefits, providing medical care, and discouraging misclassification of workers as independent contractors and/or leased employees to avoid paying workers' compensation benefits
  4. The amount and duration of medical benefits and provisions ensuring adequate medical care and free choice of physician
  5. Issues dealing with rehabilitation
  6. Standards for determining assurance of benefits caused by aggravation or acceleration of preexisting injuries or disease
  7. Time limits on filing claims
  8. Issues dealing with waiting periods
  9. Issues dealing with compulsory or elective coverage
  10. Administration of plans
  11. Whether plans provide for prompt hearings and due process evidentiary rights in the resolution of claims
  12. The relationship between workers' compensation and old-age, disability, and survivors insurance
  13. Methods of communicating the recommendations of the Commission.
    Industry Concerns with H.R. 623:
  • Federal oversight is inconsistent with the state workers' compensation system, and would create unintended consequences for a system that has been operating effectively for decades. State workers' compensation laws are drafted to represent local business and economic concerns. A national "one size fits all" approach would reverse this currently working system.
  • States have continually increased their level of benefits and expanded the availability of their benefits to injured workers. States have demonstrated the use of a wide-array of innovative tools, including cooperative labor-management committees leading to reduced litigation as well as best practices such as utilization review, the adoption of evidenced-based medicine, improved access to high-quality medical treatment, strengthened employee return to work efforts, more effectively compensated injured workers, streamlined claims adjudication, and enhanced efforts to detect and prosecute fraud. Regulations issued by States have also helped to improve access to excellent medical treatment and strengthened employee return-to-work efforts.
  • The design of a state workers' compensation system, its administration and fiscal accountability are intricately linked to each state's economy.
  • States consistently evaluate and improve upon their workers' compensation laws on their own. The State-based system provides the ability to experiment creatively and borrow from experiences in other states without the burden of a nationwide, one-size-fits-all federal program.
  • The cost of the study commission and staff is unnecessary, especially during a time of strained federal and state budgets.

Register Now for SIIA's 2011 Legislation/Regulatory Conference - The Can't Miss Event to Learn How Washington's Actions will Affect the Self-Insurance Industry
With a new Congress just elected, there has never been a more important or exciting time to come to Washington, DC. The political process will re-set and those involved in the self-insurance/alternative risk transfer industry need to stay engaged. To learn what to expect-and how your business may be affected-register NOW and plan to attend the nation's leading annual legislative regulatory conference focused on topics specific to our industry. As in previous years, a full lineup of leading policymakers who are shaping legislation/regulation on both sides of the political spectrum will address the issues and answer your questions. Confirmed speakers as well as detailed issue summaries and legislative updates will be provided as the conference approaches. http://www.siia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3280

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