Washington has a state-run workers' comp system funded by employers and workers. A state auditor said last year that reserves were at risk of insolvency.
The vast majority of costs come from 8 percent of claims involving workers who are receiving benefits for a prolonged time period or have lifetime benefits, according to the state's Department of Labor and Industries. Rates increased by an average of 12 percent in 2011, and there have been concerns of another double-digit rate hike for 2012.
Gov. Chris Gregoire recommended offering the option of settlements to injured workers over the age of 55, or limiting payments for people receiving Social Security benefits. Under her proposal, a settlement would be possible if 180 days had passed since the claim was received. Her office estimated the proposal would save more than $800 million in the next four years.
Opponents argue settlements would lead workers in a vulnerable position to accept a deal that would give them too little. House leaders have instead suggested a program to establish a health care provider network, an idea also endorsed by the governor. They've also passed a measure to freeze cost-of-living payments.
The special session was due to end in late May and there was speculation another special session might be called.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 6, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications