Friday, August 31, 2007

Louisiana Biz Coalition Seeks WC Reforms

A coalition of Louisiana businesses is pushing for broad reforms in that state's Workers' Compensation system, claiming that the current system " in a crisis situation." The group, Louisianans for Workers' Compensation Reform, cites studies by such groups as the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the Workers Compensation Research Institute, and others, as evidence that injured workers in Louisiana stay on temporary disability longer than necessary.

The group points to reforms in other states such as California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia that have reduced costs for employers.

I would only caution them, as someone who has been involved in the efforts to reform the Illinois system, to remember that not all reforms produce the promised results. Here in Illinois, the business community thought it had made a reasonable compromise by accepting an increase in certain benefit levels in return for the first-ever medical fee schedule.

So far, the promised cost savings have not materialized, and many in the Illinois business community feel it is because the implementation of the medical fee schedule has been done in such a way as to minimize any actual cost reductions. The process of actually establishing a working medical fee schedule in Illinois has been difficult, and is still not finished. And so while the increased benefits have already gone into effect, the promised cost savings from the medical fee schedule remain in the future. And may always stay that way, if some influential groups have their way.