(c) 2010-2024 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Culture of Workers Compensation Needs to Change

Workers' Compensation has become a "scapegoat" for a failing American economy. As David J. DePaolo points out in his recent blog, industry has raised the banner of reform in an effort to save dollars rather than to save workers' and their lives.

The financial reports this week from the business rating agencies reflect a deepening crisis of the economic integrity of the entire workers' compensation system nationally. The financial downturn has resulted in an estimated 11% predicted falloff in the collection of premiums. Workers' Compensation should not be turned into a great Ponzi scheme where it cannot meet its obligations and collapses.

Meanwhile as the system fails to be funded, medical delivery expenses and pharmaceutical expenditures soar with the advent of  more individualized medical treatment protocols based on genetic targets as better science becomes available. Likewise, the withdrawal of medical treatment under the claim of saving dollars has de-railed the system even further. NCCI reports that workers' compensation is on drugs. Pain medical expenditures have soared as the program fails to provide treatment necessary to cure conditions. Workers have become expendable as cheap and unskilled labor is now plentiful  around the world.

Safety is considered an unnecessary expense as evidenced by the homebuilders, who decry OSHA safety regulations. Workers' compensation numbers have become a statistic, reporting the failure of safety in the workplace rather than a factor in protecting workers and saving lives.

The social movement, "Occupy Wall Street," mirrors the 99% who labored to build American. They are outraged.

The century old experiment of workers' compensation should not be a culture based upon dollars alone. Americans are creative and industrious. The country can have both, safe jobs and a robust economy. The workers' compensation system's culture must change if the century old  promised agreement between Labor and Industry is to survive.