The Norman Transcript

Government

February 19, 2013

State Senate unveils workers’ compensation act

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s adversarial workers’ compensation system will be replaced with an administrative system under a measure unveiled Monday in the Oklahoma Senate. SB 1062, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and co-authored by Sen. Anthony Sykes, will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. today.

The Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act seeks to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation premiums and ensure injured workers receive quality care in a timely manner. 

Bingman described Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation costs as a drag on Oklahoma’s economy and urged the passage of SB 1062.

“The biggest roadblock to a stronger economy in Oklahoma is our adversarial workers’ compensation system,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “Worse yet, our adversarial system doesn’t do a very good job of helping injured workers get the care they need to get healed and back to work. The system is designed to reward trial lawyers for dragging cases out and delaying outcomes as long as possible.” 

Oklahoma’s current judicial workers’ compensation system has been identified as one of the most expensive in the nation. 

Recent national studies, like the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services survey, cite Oklahoma as having one of the highest premiums in the country at $2.77 for every $100 of payroll — equating to 147 percent of the national median. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s regional neighbors boast far lower costs.

SB 1062 is modeled on a similar administrative system in the state of Arkansas. Workers’ compensation insurance premiums under the Arkansas administrative system were rated in the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Survey at $1.19 per $100 of payroll — less than half the cost of premiums paid by Oklahoma businesses.

Bingman said in addition to reducing costs for business, SB 1062 will generate better outcomes for injured workers.

An administrative system will resolve cases based on an evaluation of the merits of the case and objective medical evidence.

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