Democrats on key House and Senate committees are urging the Labor Department to look into and respond to changes in workers’ compensation laws that have shown a pattern of reducing the protections and benefits of injured workers over the last ten years.
According to an article published by NPR/ProPublica, 33 states have cut workers’ compensation benefits, made it more difficult for injured workers to qualify or given the employer more control over the medical care decisions of the injured worker. (see http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/21/450426377/lawmakers-seek-federal-oversight-of-workers-comp-as-states-limit-benefits).
The Labor Department issued a statement sharing the concerns of the lawmakers and said that their agency would work to find real solutions. It is noted that until the 2004 budget cuts, the Labor Department tracked changes made by states to their workers’ compensation laws and any failures to meet the 19 minimum and essential standards for benefits. When the workers do not get benefits under workers’ compensation, they often end up getting them under Social Security Disability or Medicaid and food stamps because they are not working. A study from 2007 estimated that injuries that occur at work and are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance end up costing other government programs about $30 billion a year.