NYCOSH, the pre-eminent occupational and safety organization in New York, just released it's 24 Point Legislative Agenda for 2007 (see below). It is clear that Joel Shufro of NYCOSH and Dennis Hughes of the New York State AFL-CIO, understand the historic compromise between workers and employers in New York which has been in effect since 1914. They won't let permanently disabled workers down.
I wonder if that crusading, letter writing, Scrooge-like insurance broker, Larry Gilroy of NYCAN (New York Workers' Compensation Action Network), is reading...perhaps he needs a visit from Marley's Ghost and learn that "Mankind is his Business! The common welfare is his business. Charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence are all his business. The dealings of his trade are but one drop of water in the ocean of his business " There will be many children of injured workers, bright eyed and expectant, who will be heartbroken this Christmas morn when underneath their trees there is little more than a few trinkets and dead pine needles. If Scrooge Gilroy has his way, permanently disabled workers will have to resort to poor houses when their benefits run out. I'm sure that when Governor Spitzer read A Christmas Carol, he rooted for disabled Tiny Tim rather than that "wrenching, covetous old sinner Scrooge".
Pardon my Holiday digression. In any case, for those of you who want to know some real facts instead of Mr. Gilroy's insurance company spin, read below :
Workers Compensation Program
December 20, 2005
1. Increase the maximum wage replacement benefit to 100 percent of the state average weekly wage as recommended by the National Commission on State Workmen’s (sic) Compensation Laws in 1972.
2. Index the maximum wage replacement benefit to increases in the state average weekly wage.
3. Increase the minimum wage replacement benefit to one-quarter of the maximum benefit rate.
4. Increase authorization limits for diagnostic testing and surgical procedures.
5. Require payment of medical bills by private insurance carriers where the claim or compensability of a particular treatment is contested.
6. Streamline existing procedures for reimbursement of private insurers from workers= compensation carriers when the compensability of treatment or diagnostic testing is established.
7. Provide for attorneys fees in cases involving medical treatment only so that workers can secure representation.
8. Define penalties and medical and transportation reimbursement as payments of compensation subject to statutory time limits for payment and penalty.
9. Establish fee schedules for prescription medication and durable medical goods.
10. Permit workers= compensation insurers to negotiate for discounts with prescription medication and durable medical goods providers.
11. Define total disability as the inability of the worker to perform his job or any restricted or light duty job offered to him by the employer.
12. Expedite the finalization of claims by abandoning time lines for the permanency findings in favor of maximum medical improvement.
13. Expand the use of vocational assessment and retraining programs.
14. Increase the amounts of existing statutory penalties, make their use mandatory instead of discretionary, and target conduct such as the frivolous controversy of cases.
15. Reduce time periods for employer and insurer compliance and filing through the expansion of existing electronic filing programs.
16. Make statutory and regulatory changes aimed at reducing adjournments and lack of preparedness, including preclusion of cross-examination in the absence of contradictory evidence.
17. Preclude claimants and carriers from appealing WCL Judge decisions that award benefits at tentative rates pending litigation.
18. Impose a time limit within which decisions must be made when a WCL Judge “reserves decision” to review testimony or consider legal issues.
19. Replace the CIRB with an independent entity empowered to investigate insurer income, expense, and profits.
20. Require insurers or the Board to confirm employer entities, payroll, employee classifications and loss history to ensure correct premium charges.
21. Increase regulation and oversight over self-insured employers and self-insurance trusts.
22. Consider making the New York State Insurance Fund the exclusive workers= compensation insurer in the state.
23. Expand the use of existing workplace safety programs and institute additional workplace safety programs, while providing employers incentives for their use.
24. Expand the scope of WCL Section 8-A concerning World Trade Center claims.