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What workers' comp reforms are costing injured workers - Part II

Last week, we began a discussion about reforms which are significantly impacting the effectiveness of workers’ compensation systems nationwide. We briefly discussed the history of workers’ compensation in the U.S., noting that the system was founded so that both employers and workers involved in dangerous industries could benefit from avoiding lengthy court battles related to injuries and illnesses suffered due to work-related causes. Instead of seeking compensation in court, workers were essentially assured that their employers would provide adequate medical coverage and compensation during recovery from work-related injuries and illnesses.

The need for a solid workers’ compensation system has not waned since the industrial age. However, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR reveals that numerous recent reforms to the system have caused workers a host of negative consequences. These reforms have left workers without reliable access to workers’ compensation and have compelled many injured and ill workers to dispute their claims in courts for years. Some of these workers have sunk into poverty and have been forced to live without access to necessary medical care.

According to NPR, many of the reforms harming workers’ compensation programs nationwide have been lobbied for by insurance companies and large corporations which insist that workers’ compensation costs are spiraling out of control. In truth, NPR reports that employers are paying less for workers’ compensation insurance than they have since the 1970s. In contrast, insurance companies are extraordinarily profitable.

Before supporting any “reforms” to workers’ compensation systems, please research who is lobbying for these reforms and why. Failure to fully understand what these reforms are and how they will affect workers can lead to terrible consequences, as has been proven by the passage of many negative reforms over the past decade.

Source: NPR, “Injured Workers Suffer As 'Reforms' Limit Workers' Compensation Benefits,” Howard Berkes, March 4, 2015

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