Groups push back against Workers' Compensation changes

Oct 19, 2017

Momentum is building against the Board’s overreaching Impairment Guidelines. Make your voice heard! -Kate Kirsch

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ALBANY - Labor-backed groups and lawyers for the injured on Wednesday continued to pressure the state Workers' Compensation Board to back off on changes they say would shortchange countless people who are hurt on the job.


“New Yorkers deserve better than to have their benefits taken away,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, an organization fighting the changes as proposed.

Activists in Buffalo, Brooklyn and Hauppauge, Long Island were set to go to local Workers’ Compensation Board offices with thousands of petitions against the new rules, which are undergoing a public comment period.


The petitions have also been sent to the Compensation Board’s headquarters in Menands.

At issue are changes to the way payments for some injuries would be made going forward. Revision of the rules was mandated as part of the 2018 state budget agreement.

Business interests had long complained that the existing system has grown too costly and that one-time injuries that can be effectively treated, such as torn ligaments or rotator cuffs, can generate payments in the tens of thousands of dollars.

They say that’s a remnant of when the system was created decades ago, before advances in medicine which have made certain types of injuries far less serious and life-changing.

Workers representatives say the proposed changes put too much power in the hands of company-assigned doctors rather than those chosen by the injured workers. Doctors typically classify injuries to help determine compensation awards.

Critics of the changes also say the state Legislature should have had a greater role in setting the value of awards.

 Assembly Democrats in September wrote to the board urging it to delay the new rules, which are  scheduled to take effect in January.

Senate Democrats then sent a similar letter to board  Chair Clarissa Rodriguez urging changes in the payment schedules and in rules regarding the use of employer-assigned doctors who determine the extent of injuries.

Obernauer noted that members of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference as well as  GOP Sen. Richard Funke of Rochester has also voiced written against the proposed changes.

With the Assembly Democrats squarely against the changes, the wild card could be the extent to which the Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and the eight Independent Democratic Conference members, would during the 2018 legislative session join a push to force a delay or a revisiting of the rule changes.


View The Original Article Here.


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