Oklahoma: House passes legislation to limit comp benefits for soft tissue injuries
Sponsored by Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, H.B. 1600 would prohibit an extension of total compensation benefits beyond 16 weeks for employees who have surgery for soft tissue injuries at the recommendation of their physician. If surgery is not recommended or recommended and not performed within 90 days, the legislation would terminate benefits.
According to the bill, soft tissue injuries include, but are not limited to, sprains, strains, contusions, tendonitis and muscle tears. Cumulative trauma and repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are considered soft tissue injuries.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Judges would need to be confirmed.
In a second piece of legislation introduced by Sullivan, the House approved a measure that would require Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the state Workers' Compensation Court. Sullivan said House Joint Resolution 1041 would bring more accountability to the system and would mimic the Senate confirmation required of presidential judicial appointments at the federal level.
"Currently, workers' compensation judges have no accountability to the people they are supposed to serve," he said. "Do we want to continue the politics of the status quo or the politics of making Oklahoma a better place to live for our citizens?"
Sullivan said District Court judges are directly elected and Civil and Criminal Appeals Court and Supreme Court judges all appear on a retention ballot at the end of their appointed term. Judges for the Workers' Compensation Court are the only ones who never appear on a ballot.
The resolution now heads to the Senate. If approved, the change would go to a statewide vote.
April 2, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications