Although the Business Council’s “package” was not included in the budget extender that was passed yesterday, it remains very much in play as the Legislature continues to work towards a complete budget involving many issues, of which Workers’ Comp “reform” is one.
It is absolutely essential that the Legislature and the Governor hear RIGHT NOW that there should be no Workers’ Compensation “package” in the budget, and most certainly not along the lines being proposed by the Business Council.
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The PPD caps already cut benefits for permanently disabled workers by about 70%. Meanwhile, it has been over 7 years since the state produced the “safety net report” required by law that would provide information about what sorts of workers are being affected by the caps (for example, whether they are disproportionately impacting low wage workers) and whether or not the caps have had any impact on return to work rates. It would be unwise, unjust and unfair for the Legislature to create new and even more draconian caps without having adequate information about the impact of the ones that exist already.
Reports from the federal Department of Labor, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board all show that as employer costs have increased in the past several years (in large part due to the Business Council’s support for raising its members costs on the NYCIRB Board and at Department of Financial Services hearings), worker benefits have declined. It has become crystal clear that worker claims are not the driving force behind employer costs. Despite this, the Business Council’s “package” proposes to cut schedule loss awards for workers who have permanent injuries to limbs, in some cases involving amputations, total joint replacements, and major surgeries. Before cutting benefits for these workers, the Legislature must insist on transparency about how insurers are spending employer premium dollars, nearly half of which never reach injured workers.
Tell the Legislature and the Governor that you oppose any Workers’ Compensation package in the budget. The Legislature and the Governor should reject the Business Council’s fact-free pitch that the only way to save money for employers is to take benefits away from workers. Instead, the Legislature should insist on getting the information that would allow it to develop legislation that will reduce employer costs without taking benefits away from injured workers.
Please feel free to redistribute this message widely to all who are concerned with the interests of workers, because today’s worker may well be tomorrow’s “injured worker.” There may still be time to derail the Business Council’s “package,” but that will only happen if many New York voices make it clear that taking benefits away from workers to enrich the insurance industry is simply unacceptable in our state. The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance has said “no” to the Business Council’s “package” in a loud voice. Please join us in helping to protect workers.
Act Now! Sign the Petition Here