For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2004
Oklahoma City businessman Bob Funk, Senator David Myers
and Senator Scott Pruitt discuss the
Republican workers comp reform proposal.
Workers Comp Reforms Proposed
/ Oklahoma City – At press conferences in Tulsa and
Oklahoma City today, legislative Republicans unveiled the
details of legislation to reform Oklahoma’s workers
compensation system, renowned as one of the most expensive
in the nation.
bill, authored by Sen. Scott
Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Ron
Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, will result in a minimum savings
of $100 million for state employers according to the National
Council on Compensation Insurance. The bill does not decrease
benefits to employees, but instead seeks to eliminate unnecessary
the State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Pruitt said, “Oklahoma
has some of the highest workers compensation insurance rates
in the nation, largely because our system involves attorneys
almost three times more than the average state. Oklahoma’s
high workers compensation costs hurt existing Oklahoma employers
and make it difficult to attract new employers to our state.”
the Tulsa Press Club, Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, stated,
“The time has truly come to make major changes to
Oklahoma’s worker’s compensation system. Our
current system is very detrimental to businesses and tremendously
hinders our economic growth. That must change. This bill
will institute several reforms that create a more equitable
system to all parties involved.
across Oklahoma are crying out for reform. Doing nothing
will result in Oklahoma falling further and further behind
in the race for jobs and economic development. This legislation
will tremendously help Oklahoma and that’s my focus,”
called on Gov. Brad
Henry to support the common sense reforms.
hope Gov. Henry joins us in calling for action in this area,
and does not call for yet another study on the issue. But
while politicians study, attorneys continue to get rich
and businesses continue to die or move out of the state.
We’re calling on Gov. Henry to lead, and join us in
doing what is right for the people of Oklahoma,” Pruitt
significant factor in Oklahoma's high workers compensation
costs is above-average attorney involvement in workers compensation
cases. The Pruitt-Peterson bill limits attorney involvement
by instituting value added fees, meaning attorneys only
get paid from the amount they obtain for their client above
the settlement offered by the employer.
bill also eliminates Oklahoma’s current "dueling
docs" scenarios by giving deference to the actual treating
doctor in the rating process. Oklahoma’s dueling docs
provisions have historically cost Oklahoma workers significantly
in terms of time and lost production.
workers compensation costs are the 11th-highest in the country,
according to the Small Business Survival Committee, a national
small business advocacy group. A recent, highly-touted study
by a corporate site location expert, Pollina Corporate Real
Estate, ranked Oklahoma as a top ten business state, but
stated Oklahoma’s expensive workers compensation system
is one of the state’s biggest negatives in attracting
new employers. The Pollina report also showed that the state
of Washington, which recently beat Oklahoma in a competition
for a new Boeing manufacturing facility, offers workers
comp rates that are nearly 71 percent lower than Oklahoma’s
rates. And of the Oklahoma’s six bordering states,
five had lower workers comp rates, the report stated.
Provisions of the Pruitt-Peterson Workers Compensation Reform
Certified Workplace Medical Plans (CWMPs): A CWMP is an
organization of health care providers (or any other entity)
that is authorized to enter into a contractual agreement
with an employer or insurance carrier to provide medical
care under the Workers Compensation Act. The statutory requirement
for enrollment will be deleted in its entirety. No enrollment
will be necessary as contrasted with an open enrollment
process. All CompSource Oklahoma covered employers will
be required to utilize a CWMP.
Medical costs will be reduced by making CWMPs more available
in the marketplace and by providing enhanced employer choice
In adjudicating disputes, only 2 medical opinions will be
offered in resolution of a dispute ---- namely, the Treating
Physician’s opinion and a 2nd opinion by the employer,
if necessary. A Judge or equivalent may choose one of the
two opinions or split the difference in adjudicating a dispute.
Mandatory Mediation before the filing of a Form 3, except
in cases of employer denial.
Attorney fees shall be assessed only against the amount
in dispute. (Value Added fees).
An evidentiary requirement that a finding of an objective
manifestation of injury (Daubert standard) is required in
soft tissue, cumulative trauma, etc. cases.
Lump sum awards will not be permitted in the category of
soft tissue, cumulative trauma, etc. cases. Lump sum settlements
in such cases shall be allowed.
Authorize and permit video-conferencing for the adjudication
of claims to occur exclusively at Career Technology centers
via ONE-NET or equivalent. The Court possesses the option
of either conducting sessions of the Court in the venue
of the dispute or by videoconference only. In either event,
the venue of all claims shall be in the County in which
the injury or claim arose. When video-conferencing is implemented,
all attorneys shall appear in person with their respective
client by videoconference. Attorneys for Respondent may
appear by videoconference in the most accessible Career
Permanent partial disability in non-surgical cases shall
only be allowed where there is “objective evidence
of a permanent anatomical abnormality, and there is evidence
that the ability of the employee to earn wages at the same
level as on the date of injury is adversely impaired.”
more information contact:
Scott Pruitt - (405) 521-5602
Rep. Ron Peterson - (405) 557-7338