The business organization Citizen Voices hosted a forum Wednesday on the status of workers’ compensation law reform, and the law’s effect on businesses and workers.
The forum featured a panel consisting of state Sen. Jim Seward (R-Milford), Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-Guilford), Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R-Schoharie) and Unshackle Upstate executive director Brian Sampson. Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Nelson) was scheduled to attend, but was unable to because of other commitments that could not be changed. The panel was moderated by Citizen Voices volunteer Rob Robinson.
Attendees were able to, and did, ask questions of the panelists.
The major focuses of the panel were the increase in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance this year and the pace of the implementation of the 2007 Workers’ Compensation Reform Act.
The 2007 reform, among other measures, put limits on permanent partial-disability benefits, raised the maximum weekly disability payment and called for new medical-treatment guidelines. The new guidelines, however, have not yet been fully adopted, which panelists said has delayed the bill’s cost-saving potential.
“We still have not seen the full benefit of the changes of 2007,” Seward said.
Speaking about the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance in New York, Sampson gave the Goodyear plant in Buffalo as an example.
“The Buffalo plant loses out on bids for one sole reason: Workers’ comp,” he said.
Crouch, meanwhile, gave an example of a business that moved to his district from Pennsylvania, and saw their workers’ compensation premiums increase by five times.
Sampson gave three proposals for reducing workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
“There’s three things that they should do that if they did it, you’d see premiums probably plummet.”
These proposals were to update the scheduled loss of use (SLU) tables the state uses, have the state use the American Medical Association’s medical guidelines and adopt the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s (ACOEM) treatment guidelines.