The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation

The WCA has issued the following press release regarding the ProPublica series on The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation:

WORKERS’ COMP COSTS DOWN ACCORDING TO NEW ANALYSIS BY PROPUBLICA / NPR

Despite Reduced Costs, Insurers and Business Interests
Seek to Slash Protection for Injured Workers

New York, NY – March 6, 2015 – Workers’ compensation costs are down nationally and in New York State, according to a dramatic new analysis from ProPublica and NPR.

The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance, a coalition of injured workers and those committed to protecting the rights of injured workers, hailed the analysis, which reveals a system in which insurers and business interests are seeking to slash injured worker benefits despite reduced costs.

“For years, insurers have promoted a false narrative that workers’ comp costs are out of control and that they have to reduce benefits to maintain competitiveness,” said Robert Grey, Chair of NYWCA.  “This is simply not the case.  New York is not a high-cost state and costs are at a 25-year low nationally.  Nonetheless, insurers and business interests are attempting to destroy the safety net for injured workers.”

Meanwhile, a new report from OSHA reveals that the cost for workplace injures has been shifted from employers onto the backs of taxpayers and injured workers. According to the report, 50 percent of the costs for worker injuries come from the injured workers themselves, while 29 percent comes from federal, state and local governments, and only 21 percent is paid by workers’ compensation insurance.

“Workers gave up their right to sue employers for personal injury in exchange for medical coverage and speedy and adequate wage replacement benefits,” said Grey. “This basic ‘bargain’ has been broken, and the system has been twisted to create profits for insurance companies at the expense of injured workers.”

Workers’ compensation costs in New York State have declined dramatically in the past two decades and workers’ compensation is also a declining portion of overall employer costs.  Employers’ workers’ compensation premiums were cut nearly 25% in 2007 and 2008 as a result of 2007 legislation. After moderate increases from 2009-2011, there have been no further increases in premiums in two of the past three years. Meanwhile, since 2011, employers’ workers’ compensation assessments have dropped more than a third from 20.2% to 13.2%.

As employer costs have been reduced, however, benefits for lost wages have remained inadequate for both the maximum and minimum rates. Nevertheless, business and employer interests continue their efforts to further cut worker benefits, pursuing employer managed care and attempting to cut benefits for permanent injury.

 

To read full copies of the reports:
http://www.propublica.org/article/the-demolition-of-workers-compensation
http://www.dol.gov/osha/report/20150304-inequality.pdf

http://www.propublica.org/article/how-much-is-your-arm-worth-depends-where-you-work

These and other workers’ compensation issues have been covered in detail in a recent NYCWA white paper: http://www.nyworkerscompensationalliance.org/pdf/STATE%20OF%20THE%20SYSTEM%202014%20-%20Release.pdf

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