(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Florida’s “Circle Solution” Revisited: NJ Struggles to Speed up the Benefit Highway

After a major investigative report entitled “Waiting in Pain,” the Star Ledger, newspaper reflected delays and frustrations in the operation of the NJ Workers’ Compensation system. The NJ Legislature has found itself struggling to define an effective approach to resolve the problems of the century old compensation system.

The Legislature immediately convened a hearing to discuss the issue. It heard testimony from many of the stakeholders, except the victims of the alleged abuse, the injured workers. Their voices were silent.

In a complete about face the leadership of the Legislature turned from the initial comments that the system was “completely dysfunctional” and needed a complete overhaul, to its present course of action, a piecemeal modification of the Act without the benefit of a complete and thorough evaluation of the system.

The enormous delay in the delivery in medical care appears to be a most significant and complex issue facing the Workers‘Compensation system in New Jersey and other jurisdictions throughout the United States. Medical benefits, which have soared in cost, now have now become the epicenter of controversy.

It is obvious that the system is need of more than merely first aid. A complete evaluation of the system is required such as has been proposed by Assemblyman Neil Cohen. Without such an evaluation it is difficult to determine a valid diagnosis, never mind trying to define a plan for treatment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Next Crisis in Comp: What Happens When the Funds Go Insolvent?

Workers’ Compensation coverage is not immune from the economic realities of the market and injured workers again fail to lose big time as the economy falters. Many States have established UEFs, Uninsured Employer Funds and IFs, Insolvency Funds but they are not uniform in application, some are based on weak economic foundations and others do not provide full benefits.

When the system fails on the employer side of the ledger the consequences trickle down to the employees on the benefit end. In a recent development in the State of New York 12 trusts embracing $200 Million have failed. The domino effect is now a real threat for 50 group trusts remaining covering 20,000 business and 500,000 employees.

States will now have to scramble to provide a resolution of this issue or the consequences of further economic impact will fall upon the taxpayers who are unable to accept the shift in this burden as injured workers seek alternate avenue for at least medical care.

Monday, June 9, 2008

NJ Assembly to Consider New Workers' Compensation Bills





The public may address comments and questions to Gregory L. Williams, Committee Aide, or make bill status and scheduling inquiries to Alfonsina Mavros, Secretary, at (609)984-0445, fax (609)777-2998, or e-mail:

Written and electronic comments, questions and testimony submitted to the committee by the public, as well as recordings and transcripts, if any, of oral testimony, are government records and will be available to the public upon request.

The Assembly Labor Committee will meet on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 15, Fourth Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey. The following bills will be considered:

A-1581Cohen/EganIncreases workers' compensation for loss of hand or foot.
A-2593Scalera/EganRequires reporting of wage records under certain solid waste contracts.
A-2934Conners/Conaway(pending intro)Allows persons affected by certain plant closings, transfers and mass layoffs to receive temporary suspension of payment of interest on mortgage loans.
A-2935Conaway/Conners(pending intro)Provides for expedited injunction for violations of law requiring prenotification of certain plant closings, transfers and mass layoffs.
A-2936Conaway/Conners(pending intro)Concerns access to certain job training courses for employees affected by plant closings, mass layoffs or transfer of operations.
A-2966Cohen/Egan/Giblin(pending intro)Increases power of judges of compensation to enforce workers' compensation law.A-2967Egan/Cohen/Giblin(pending intro)Strengthens enforcement against employers for failure to provide workers' compensation coverage.
A-2969Cohen/Egan/Giblin(pending intro)Expands the membership of the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau.
A-2970Egan/Cohen/Giblin(pending intro)Makes failure to provide workers compensation coverage a violation of "New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act" and crime of insurance fraud.

Issued 6/6/2008 For reasonable accommodation of a disability call the telephone number or fax number above, or TTY for persons with hearing loss (609)777-2744/toll free in NJ (800)257-7490. The provision of assistive listening devices requires 24 hours’ notice. Real time reporter or sign language interpretation requires 5 days’ notice. For changes in schedule due to snow or other emergencies, call 800-792-8630 (toll-free in NJ) or 609-292-4840.

The NJ Supreme Court Declares Dependency Benefit Increases are Not to Be Retroactively Applied

The NJ Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the Appellate Division and declared the Legislature’s 2004 amendment to the workers’ compensation act not to have retroactive application. The Amendment increased benefits to 70% of wages for dependents of injured workers. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Legislature demonstrated no intent of making the amendment retroactive

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hispanic Workers Have High Death Rates

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has again reported higher death dates for Hispanic workers in the United States. Hispanic workers are one of the fastest growing segments in the US workforce and their death rate has been reported as consistently high.

Work-related injury deaths among Hispanic workers during 1992-2006 totaled 11,202 which equates to 13% of the entire US work-related deaths during that timeframe. Of that number 67% of the Hispanics who lost their lives during the years 2003-2006 were foreign born which is an increase of 52% from 1992.

While the highest number of deaths of Hispanic workers were reported 2003-2006 in California (773 deaths), the highest rates were in South Carolina (22.8 per 100,000 Hispanic workers.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Will New Jersey’s Injured Workers Continue to Silently Wait in Pain?

The NJ legislature is bogged down in controversy over what direction to take in order to respond to the State’s injured workers. While proposed administration legislation has passed through the Senate Labor Committee, the actual voices of the injured remain silent. No injured workers have yet testified before the legislature.

Without a master plan to address the issues raised in the Star Ledger series, the NJ Legislature is attempting to address specific issues and not considering some other thoughtful legislative proposals that have been pending for sometime. These include not only those outlined in my prior article introduced by Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Cohen, but also A2846 and S785 which permits a COLA increase to benefits.

As the employers and insurance carriers continue to raise their voices, the silence of the injured workers is both eerie and foreboding.

CDC in Reviewing WCMSA Limits Review to One Life Expectancy Table

Effective July 1, 2008 the Centers for Medicare and Medicad (CMS) will exclusively use the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Table 1 (Life Table for Total Population) when determining life expectancy in Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Asides (WCMSA) proposals. The directive was issued in a memo dated May 20, 2008.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Public Heath Advocates Form Committee to Ban Asbestos in America

"The most efficient way to eliminate asbestos- related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos." The World Health Organization

Public health advocates, led by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and The John McNamara Foundation, today announced the formation of the Committee to Ban Asbestos in America (CBAA). Asbestos kills more than 10,000 men, women and children every year. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported mesothelioma deaths increased from 2004 to 2005 in "Health, United States, 2007." Since first tracked in 1980, mesothelioma deaths have increased every year. "As recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1976 the only way to prevent asbestos-related diseases is to ban its use, the CBAA supports language in a Committee Print before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Hazardous Materials," said Linda Reinstein, Chairperson of the Committee to Ban Asbestos in America. "We are calling on the U.S. Congress and the President to do the right thing and ban asbestos in America and fund critical medical programs. Doctors and scientists agree: asbestos is a carcinogen and that there is no safe level of exposure. Preventing asbestos exposure is the only way to eliminate asbestos caused diseases. Recent ADAO product testing confirmed asbestos is still found in consumer products including toys."

"Asbestos and the manufacturers of asbestos are responsible for creating the largest man made health crisis in this country," said TC McNamara, Founder of The John McNamara Foundation. "Asbestos went from being a miracle product to a serial killer which makes this legislation long overdue, but now is the time to ban asbestos in America."