Bills target workers' compensation benefits

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2005

The governor and the commissioner of labor claim that SB 130 and HB 180 will not diminish workers' benefits under workers' compensation. Don't be fooled by their promises.

These bills give insurance companies two bites at the judicial apple by creating an appeals panel of political appointees to give insurance companies a better win record.

They dumb down legal help for injured workers by funding a non-profit with state money to represent claimants. This will further assure workers will lose before this appeals panel.

They give insurance companies a tool to disqualify workers from retraining through the job dislocation benefit that isn't really a benefit at all. For an extra $5,000 to $13,500, workers will unknowingly forfeit retraining in future claims. Workers only receive minimal information about retraining benefits.

They adopt guidelines for patient-care that insurance adjusters and attorneys will likely use to "practice" on claimants yet leave doctors responsible for outcomes not covered by their confusing algorithms. This cookbook will also stifle new and innovative medical treatments.

They assure that workers will have a harder time finding good doctors willing to treat them by reducing doctors' fees back to 1999 levels. Why don't they ask the insurance companies to hold their premiums to the ones employers paid back then?

These bills are unfair and unnecessary.

Barb Williams

Anchorage



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