A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about proposed legislation for workers’ compensation reform. Although there have been several discussions in the legislature over the past several years regarding workers’ compensation reform, at the time of that article, wc reform was in the early stages of discussion. There had not yet been a bill introduced to the state legislatures regarding this issue. Unfortunately, dear readers, those discussions have now come into fruition in the form of NC House Bill 709.
Under NC House Bill, insurance companies and big corporations are intent on destroying your rights as North Carolina Citizens by:
- Forcing you to see a doctor that the INSURANCE company chooses. Now I know, favorite readers, you’ve paid a lot of attention to my past posts that tell you that the insurance company gets to direct care. You’re probably thinking, “How does this change effect my case? The insurance company is already choosing my doctors.” You’re correct. Under the current law, the insurance company does get to direct your care. However, the current law also allows you to ask the Industrial Commission to allow you to see the doctor that you want to see and authorizes the Industrial Commission to allow you to see the doctor of your choice. The proposed law will make it impossible for you to change doctors or consult a physician while you are on workers’ compensation, even if you are receiving horrible care.
- Terminate your benefits if you disagree with the doctor the insurance company hires for you. Under the current law, if you disagree with the doctor that the insurance company has chosen for you, you are entitled to a second opinion as of right. Under the proposed law, the insurance company may take away your benefits if you exercise your rights to the second opinion.
- Invade your rights of privacy. Under the current law, the insurance company cannot talk to your medical providers without you being present. The proposed legislation allows the insurance company to talk to your doctors and access ALL of your medical records without your consent which is a clear violation of your rights to privacy.
- Cuts off compensation for lost income and medical care after 500 weeks (9 years). Even if you are permanently and severely injured, and never be able to work again, the most compensation you will ever be able to receive under the proposed legislation is 500 weeks, or 9 years, of compensation.
- Force injured workers to take low-paying jobs. Currently, if an injured worker is deemed to be able to return to work, the insurance company or employer, must provide suitable employment. Suitable employment is work that is suitable for the injured worker’s capacity. The proposed legislation allows the insurance company to send injured workers to low-paying jobs that may not necessarily be suitable to the workers’ capacity.
These changes will affect injured people with workers compensation claims that are currently pending as well as future claims. Further, with the cap compensation, these changes will shift the costs of caring for injured workers off of the insurance companies and on to taxpayers. Why is that? Because injured workers will be forced to apply for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Benefits in order to receive continued care for their work-related injuries and to make ends meet after they have been forced into those low-paying jobs.
Now before you try to make arguments along party lines, you need to be aware that this is not a Democratic issue, nor is it a Republican issue. This is an issue that affects all of us. There are people from both parties that support this bill. There are also people from both parties who do not support this bill.
People who are for this bill, would like you to believe that this “reform” will help decrease insurance premiums. Those people are dead wrong. In states such as Texas and Virginia that have already passed some form of workers’ compensation reform, there have been no decrease in insurance premiums. And do you know who is pocketing that money–you guessed it Insurance Companies and Big Corporations.
The bottom line is this, these changes impact all of us. If you are an injured worker, it affects you directly. If you are not an injured worker, you will not be protected should be become injured on the job in the future if this proposed bill is passed. If you are not an injured worker, you are a taxpayer and this will affect your taxes.
This bill is bad for all of us. We need to ACT NOW to stop this bill from passing. Find out who represents you and contact your legislators, the bill’s sponsors, and even Governor Bev Purdue if need be. You can also contact members of the N.C. House Committee on Insurance. Do this TODAY! Tell them that you oppose this bill. If you want, you can also tell them your party affiliation so that they know that it’s not a party issue, it’s a people issue.