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Thursday, July 21, 2011

That Used to Be Comp

A parallel can be drawn between the concepts discussed  by Thomas Friedman, at the National Governors Conference last week, and the status of the ailing workers’ compensation system in the US. The present problems, that have been the subject of Band-Aid statutory reform and regulatory directives, lack creative solutions. Reinventing America  and workers compensation must incorporate  the challenges of globalization, technology, national deficits and energy consummation, to meet the demands of the new world.

Mr. Friedman is the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes, and is the author 5  best sellers. His newest book, “That Used To Be Us” is scheduled for release in September. He declares that “the American dream is in peril.” What worked in the past for the Nation to be a vibrant economy will no longer work in the future. Change is necessary.

The State workers’ compensation system, crafted over one hundred years ago, in the time of the American Industrial Revolution, no longer functions as an efficient, remedial and expeditious method for the handling of disability claims. Traumatic events have given way to multifaceted occupational diseases, the simplicity of single stage medical treatment protocols have multiplied into complex and costly: diagnostics, treatment modalities, and pharmaceutical regiments, that are accentuated with personalized genetic modeling.

The world of workers’ compensation will have difficulty meeting its responsibilities without adequate funding as payrolls fall, fewer people become employed as technology takes the place of jobs, and workload is distributed across the globe and into The Cloud. Creative thinking is necessary to look forward and determine how to administer and reconfigure the compensation system so that it meets the needs of injured workers rather than rejects them. A Labor force that is healthy will strengthen the national economy. Instead of dueling at every street corner in the land over medical fees and payment reimbursement, it is time to look at an inventive and universal remedy.

Thomas Friedman remarked that in the future there will be two types of nations, The High Imagining Enabled (HIE) countries and the Low Imagining Enabled (LIE) countries. The United States needs to relook at what used to be an efficient and functioning workers’ compensation system, and redevelop it through creative thinking and available global technology, to make it workable once again.

That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 5, 2011), 400 pp.

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