Rather than progressing with inflation, due to calls by employers seeking to lower insurance costs for workman's comp management, state after state has slashed workman’s comp benefits. Rates are now at their lowest since the 1970s, and state legislatures are still poking at laws in efforts to compete with neighboring states to draw in new businesses, leaving taxpayers and injured workers to foot the bill from poorly compensated losses.
An unheeded cry for help
Caps, such as those for on-the-job permanent injuries, are often woefully inadequate, leaving even single workers affected well below federal poverty level, and families even worse off. State courthouses stuck with upholding laws and rules agree the system needs attention, but point to the legislature, not the courts, to fix it – despite the fact injured workers have no effective lobbyists to represent them.
Overcome with obstacles
Attempts to raise the cap on compensation are often met with demands from businesses to reduce benefits elsewhere. Employers are frustrated with laws which cover some medical costs better than other states, others inadequately, and some with lifetime benefits to those permanently disabled – even in individuals of retirement age if they live to 100.
Inequities on both sides
Both sides of known inequities must be addressed to create a system that works – for businesses and employees. To that end, committees comprised of representatives for workers, employers and the medical community are essential for creating a compromise. How and how quickly these issues are addressed are also likely to vary by state – unless the federal government steps in. Unfortunately, only more time will tell.
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