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February 22, 2013

Sparks: Capitol in big need of repair

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Sparks said the three biggest issues this session are the workers’ compensation bill, Medicaid expansion and the Capitol’s maintenance.

Bills proposing workers’ compensation reform are on the floor right now.

“We are at a point where the added expense of the system is in the medical reimbursement rates. The new language has just been released and so we’re looking at the proposed bills,” he said.

He does not support the move to an administrative system for workers’ comp.

“There are situations where you have reasonable disagreements regarding the facts or the law, and both the employer and the employee should have the right to representation to urge their positions,” Sparks said. “If you go to an administrative system, you’re still going to have someone who’s appointed making decisions just like the judges do now, but your ability to participate in the resolution will be limited.

“None of the proposals we’ve seen so far reduce expenses by reducing administrative costs,” he said. “Instead, all of the cost savings result from reduced worker benefits for health care, lost income and loss of future earning capacity. None of the plans that have been introduced to date show a savings on the administrative-cost side.”

However, Sparks agrees that the system needs reform.

“No amount of fraud or abuse is acceptable,” he said. “We should always work hard to eliminate fraud and abuse from any system.”

Joy Hampton

366-3539

jhampton@

normantranscript.com

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