Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Federal Subcommittee Examines State Workers Comp Systems
On November 17th a congressional subcommittee looked into and expressed concern about state workers compensation systems. There was testimony taken and written statements provided which reflect what I see as legitimate concerns about many state systems. The link I have provided here takes you to the webpage and from there you can listen to and read much of what was provided. One concern was over the American Medical Association 6th edition for rating permanent impairment. Colorado still uses an older version. The 6th edition deviates from past editions in a significant way including what appears to be a lack of evidence based protocols. In any event more worrisome is the view that over the last 20 years benefits have been reduced and this may have increased other disability claims such as SSDI and SSI claims. What was historically intended to help injured workers in an efficient manner has, over time, become inadequate and not equitable. In Colorado you only have to look at the definition of permanent total disability to see how legislation has intentionally sought to cut benefits. At Colorado Revised Statutes 8-40-201(16.5) total disability is defined as being unable to earn any wages in any employment. Does this mean if you can only work a few hours for minimum wage you are not totally disabled? Insurers do so argue that very point and Colorado is tough compared even to Social Security disability. Harsh results? Often but insurers merely use existing Colorado law to keep benefits low. Other areas of controversy are pre-existing conditions or for that matter insurers questioning if work activities are responsible at all. In Colorado nearly 25% of workers comp claims are contested and never admitted without a hearing. Those interested can read the last published figures for the year 2005.