The Norman Transcript

Government

May 1, 2013

Workers’ comp. overhaul advances

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“Now, they know we’re serious about getting these costs under control. We’re serious about offering certainty to small businesses, and we’re serious about attracting good manufacturing jobs back to Oklahoma. Most important of all, our legacy industries know we mean business when we ask them to grow their investment in Oklahoma’s future.”

An independent analysis by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the nation’s largest provider of workers’ compensation data, predicted Oklahoma could see hundreds of millions of dollars saved every year as a direct result of SB 1062.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has worked closely with Pro Tem Bingman to develop SB 1062.  Sen. Sykes presented amendments to the measure on the floor of the Senate and highlighted the need to care for injured workers in a prompt manner.

“Oklahoma’s judicial system hasn’t done a very good job of taking care of injured workers,” said Sykes, R-Moore. “In the future, if you get hurt on the job, there won’t be a trial lawyer standing between you and your doctor. Workers will see better health outcomes, they’ll be receiving care in a timely manner, and they won’t be pitted against their employer in a court room.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done here today, and I look forward to seeing this bill’s positive impact on the future prosperity of Oklahoma.”

Under SB 1062, an administrative workers’ compensation system would be structured with three commissioners appointed by the governor, subject to Senate approval, for six-year staggered terms. The commission will then appoint administrative law judges to hear all claims for compensation.

Not everyone is happy about the bill’s forward momentum.

“This bill literally adds insult to injury,” said Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman. “From cutting weekly Temporary Total Disability maximum payments by 30 percent, when the worker is off work on doctor’s orders and can least afford to be unpaid, to limiting coverage for cumulative trauma, this ‘reform’ finds cost savings almost exclusively by cutting legitimate payments and benefits to legitimately injured workers.”

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