Wyoming: Lawmakers debate legislative package to reform workers' comp system
The state's Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee recently debated three pieces of draft legislation. The bills would:
--Bring workers' comp benefits up-to-date. Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River, has been pushing the state to update its workers' comp benefits system, which he said has not kept up with the cost of living and increasing medical expenses. The problem, Hastert said, is that Wyoming's benefits for injured workers are calculated on a system that is a decade old and has not maintained pace with inflation.
--Extend coverage of mental injuries. One part of the legislative package would expand coverage of mental injuries to include claims such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
--Provide stronger support for injured workers. This bill would provide a stronger voice for injured employees by creating an ombudsman for the workers' comp system.
Groups, such as the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, the Equality State Policy Center, and the Wyoming AFL-CIO, have been pushing for lawmakers to make reforms to the workers' comp system to ensure better protection for employees who are injured on the job. They urged lawmakers in February to nix a proposal by some trade associations to tap into the state's $937 million workers' comp system reserve to provide employers with a credit on their premiums.
Lawmakers said the reform package, which has received nearly 30 amendments, would likely be introduced in the coming legislative session.
December 16, 2008
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