Workers Comp Reform: An Open Letter to NC Taxpayers

A Workers Comp reform bill is set to be filed in the NC General Assembly within the next several weeks.  This bill is bad for everyone but the insurance companies and self-insured businesses (think Wal-Mart) that a lobbying for it.  Don’t let this bill go through without speaking out against it!  Here is an open letter to taxpayers in North Carolina letting you know just what is at stake…

Dear fellow NC Taxpayers:

Starting this week, working families across the state need to call Republican House members to ask them NOT to support the workers’ compensation bill that Representative Dale Folwell is planning to file sometime in the next few weeks.  (The House deadline for the filing of public bills is March 24th, so we know the bill will be filed in the next two weeks).

The draft of the bill that is circulating is worse than originally thought.  It turns the current workers comp system on its head by giving the insurance company complete control over medical treatment.

First, they would get to choose the treating physician (and while the worker could change treating physicians once in the case, his “choice” would be limited to choosing from one of a group of three or more doctors chosen by the insurance company!).

Second, the treating physician would have to get prior approval from the insurance company for every single referral and recommendation.  The worker will be forbidden from putting on medical evidence (notes and any testimony) from a doctor who has not been authorized by the insurance company.  This includes your family doctor.

And, to make matters worse, the insurance company and defense attorney would be able to talk to your physicians without your prior knowledge or consent.

The current version of the bill would allow the insurance company to stop an injured worker’s disability benefits on the grounds that the injured worker failed to cooperate with medical treatment– even if he or she hasn’t previously been ordered to comply with medical treatment.

And that’s just the part having to do with medical treatment.  The current draft of the bill artificially caps benefits at 500 weeks (with only a few exceptions for very seriously injured workers).  And it completely does away with the requirement that a new job pay somewhere near what the pre-injury job paid.   If you have been injured and are not able to go back to your old job, your disability checks will be cut off if they can find you a job flipping burgers for minimum wage.

It doesn’t matter that the bill hasn’t been filed yet.  In fact, that’s a good thing.  Because once it’s filed, it’s probably too late.  We need to try to get some attention now while the bill is still being drafted.  Because maybe if your representative sees how unpopular this bill is, he will talk to Representative Folwell and ask him to introduce a less harmful bill.  If this bill becomes law it will:

  1. Take away your right to choose your own physician, and take away your right to ask the Industrial Commission to approve a treating physician of your own choice;
  2. Take away all of their medical privacy rights by allowing the insurance company (and the insurance company’s attorney) to talk to your doctors without your prior knowledge or consent;
  3. Let the insurance company cut off your compensation based on the claim that you aren’t cooperating with the doctors they selected;
  4. Artificially cut off your compensation after 500 weeks without regard to whether you have wage-earning capacity; and
  5. Require you to take a job that pays a lot less than you were making when you got hurt.

You can find the name and contact information for your local representative by clicking here.

Please write, email, and call them today.