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Monday, November 15, 2010

Congress to Hear Experts on New State Workers' Compensation Limitations

A sub-committee of the Committee on Education and Labor, chaired by the Congressman George Miller, will be hearing testimony from national experts concerning the new limitations being imposed on State workers' compensation systems. The systemic problems to be examine include the delivery of medical benefits and the assessment of the nature of disability.

On Wednesday, November 17, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee will examine state workers’ compensations systems. Workers’ compensation traditionally provides financial assistance and job training to workers injured on the job and aid to the surviving family of a worker killed on the job.

Not only are the state systems drawing the attention of the US Congress, but also the federal programs are becoming problematic. The United States Postal Service announced last week that workers' compensation costs are so high that the quasi-governmental agency may have to declare bankruptcy.

With the newly elected Republican majority in Congress, the water ahead may be rough for workers' compensation. The last time the Republican's held the majority in Congress, Newt Gingrich , the former Speaker, was entertaining dramatic changes in the program. Those appear to have been refreshed in recent comments about a year ago.

These systems have undergone numerous changes in the past decade as many states have begun strictly limiting workers’ compensation benefits – changes that may be stressing the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Additionally, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) guide to assessing injured workers has undergone significant changes in its latest edition, which has made consequential changes to injured workers’ evaluation procedure.

Workforce Protections Subcommittee Hearing
2:00 PM, November 17, 2010
2175 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC

Additional witnesses TBA.

Witnesses:
Emily SpielerDeanNortheastern University School of LawBoston, MA
John BurtonProfessor Emeritus, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers UniversityProfessor Emeritus, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell UniversityPrinceton, NJ
Christopher GodfreyIowa Workers Compensation CommissionerDes Moines, IA
Dr. John NimlosOccupational Medicine ConsultantShoreline, WA