Worker’s Compensation Reforms

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

As the agenda for this legislative session was set, one of the hot topic issues that continuously arose was the reformation of the current worker’s compensation system. I think it is an important issue for the state of Oklahoma and one that could drastically cut excess costs if the right balance is found.

The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation that will completely transform the workers’ compensation system and it is now up to House lawmakers to review the legislation and put it to a vote.

Currently, Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation rates are the sixth highest in the nation. Even though we are one of the lowest cost of living states, our businesses have to pay some of the highest premiums in the nation. Oklahoma and Tennessee are the only states with judicial systems.

The judicial system consists of governor-appointed judges who grant higher or lower awards based on their politics. The system incentivizes litigation, is adversarial and impairs the rehabilitation of the injured workers.

The workers’ comp reform bill would change the current court-based system to an administrative system which would allow for workers to get back to their job more quickly after being treated, take politics out of the system and lower premiums through the predictability of award amounts.

It is crucial to find the right balance between getting our Oklahoma workers efficient and quality medical care while ensuring a fair and less costly system for business owners. Finding this perfect balance can have a profound positive impact on our citizens. A major overhaul to the system will lower costs for business, ensure that workers get proper medical care and get back on the job faster and will give new companies an incentive to move to our great state. When business owners can put more of their money back into their businesses, they can innovate, expand and hire new employees.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (405) 557-7407 or emails me at mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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