Workers compensation state news: CA, IA, IL, NV, OR

October 12th, 2004 by Julie Ferguson

Is the California Workers comp overhaul providing relief? Some don’t think so. Injured workers still face lengthy delays in getting treatment and resolving insurance claims. The main reason is that the new legislation took effect before critical rules and guidelines could be developed to accompany it, according to The Sacramento Bee. Officials say the new rules will not be ready before Jan. 1.
Iowa lawsuit challenges workers compensation rules
“An injured Iowa worker has filed suit against the state, claiming that legislation containing new workers’ compensation rules approved by lawmakers was constructed in a manner that violates the state’s constitution.
Gertrude Godfrey of Sioux City claims in a petition filed in Polk County District Court that lawmakers unlawfully rolled the new workers’ comp regulations into an economic development package along with several other provisions.
Her Des Moines attorney, Martin Ozga, said Godfrey, 63, suffered a lower back injury while working at a bakery thrift store and is seeking compensation.
The new rules, promoted by Republican lawmakers, limited an employee’s ability to recover workers’ compensation dollars when they have been injured on the job more than once.”

Other reports state that this challenge could threaten a new $87 million business tax break as well.
Illinois panel to study Hispanic immigrant work-related deaths
Kudos to Gov. Rod Blagojevich for appointing a panel to study the high rate of work-related deaths among Hispanic immigrants and to identify ways to lower the risk. We hope other states will follow suit.
“Blagojevich said two potential improvements would be to tighten health and safety requirements in the state’s day laborer law, and to increase bilingual worker training. Last year, of the 5,559 work-related deaths recorded nationwide by the federal Labor Department, 72 percent of the victims were whites, 14 percent Hispanics, 10 percent blacks, 3 percent Asians, and the rest were of other races or ethnicities.”
Nevada – Decrease proposed for workers’ compensation insurance rate
“State Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman says she will make a decision in about one month on a recommendation to lower by 6.5 percent the average rate paid by businesses for workers’ compensation policies. She said this was the second straight year the National Council on Compensation Insurance has suggested a rate reduction.
But Dick Rottman, owner of a Reno insurance company and former state insurance commissioner, said he couldn’t understand how that national group is calling for a rate decrease in industrial insurance rates.
Rottman said there are double-digit increases in medical costs. And the 2003 Legislature changed the permanent partial disability law and in some cases the cost for injured workers has risen 15 percent to 20 percent.”

Oregon – No workers’ comp rate increase in 2005, Kulongoski says
Governor Ted Kulongoski recently said Oregon workers’ compensation insurance rates will not increase in 2005, and noted this was the third straight year without an increase following 12 consecutive years of rate reductions that began with a major reform in 1990 that has saved Oregon businesses a total of about $10.1 billion.
Critics said rates could be even lower if voters approve a ballot measure in November that would abolish SAIF Corp., the state-owned workers’ compensation insurer, and leave the market to private companies.
There “are other states where measures like this have passed and rates have gone down,” said Lisa Gilliam, spokeswoman for Oregonians for Accountability, a campaign to eliminate SAIF funded by Liberty Northwest, a subsidiary of Boston-based insurance giant Liberty Mutual.