Following the investigations by ProPublica and NPR, (see our previous post for more information) U.S. lawmakers are pushing for more federal oversight of State Workers' Compensation systems. According to ProPublica, "Ten prominent Democratic lawmakers, including presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, are urging the U.S. secretary of labor to come up with a plan to ensure that state workers’ compensation programs are properly caring for injured workers."
The push is in response to the findings of the investigation showing US taxpayers are the ones left footing the bill when an individual is injured at work. Due to the strong influence of special interest groups, specifically those in favor of workers' compensation insurance carriers, State Workers' Compensation laws have continually cut benefits available to injured workers.
This is no more evident than in our home state of Florida where benefits available for injured workers continue to be cut in favor of lowering workers compensation premiums for employers. The removal of these benefits forces injured workers to turn to Medicaid or federal disability programs because they are not able to receive the necessary medical care under Florida's workers' compensation laws.
The Workers' Compensation law in Florida was created to provide the necessary care to those who have been injured at work so they may recover and return to work in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the purpose of the law has given way to the interests of employers in reducing premiums and increasing profits. Hopefully, the push by these 10 Democratic lawmakers is a sign of a positive trend in ensuring the laws return to their original purpose, protecting and providing care to injured workers.