Why does Alaska allow huge premium increases?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, April 01, 2005

The governor has introduced HB180 and SB130 as ways to reduce workers' compensation premiums for employers by reducing benefits to injured workers. His energies would be better directed towards insuring that his own Insurance Commission and Division of Workers' Compensation did their jobs. How could these agencies permit premium increases, in some cases of up to 400 percent, with claims cost increases of less than 9 percent in the last two years? How could these agencies permit such exorbitant premium increases based on inaccurate, meaningless, and unreliable cost information that is collected from insurers in an unstandardized manner?

If the authors of these bills used their brains, they'd give both insurance companies and workers a fair shake before the board with decisions appealable to a real court and not just some political appointees. They'd not ask doctors to rely on a cookbook approach to patient care or ask them to roll back their rates to those in effect six years ago. If they used their hearts, they wouldn't propose a job dislocation benefit that is really a backdoor settlement of the retraining benefit for a measly sum of money. They'd insure there was oversight instead of communication only from insurance adjusters. If they used their courage, they would attempt to shave down claims costs by reducing PPI awards by 20 percent for employees who are able to return to work and to help injured workers who can't by increasing the wage goal for retraining from 60 percent to 85 percent of what they earned at the time of injury. The team responsible for HB180 and SB130 needs a trip to see the wizard in order to bring wisdom, fairness, and judgment to the process of proposing legislation that will work for both employers and employees.

Marjorie T. Linder


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