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Workers’ compensation reforms sent to Governor

Workers’ compensation reforms sent to Governor

Workers’ Compensation Reforms Sent to Governor

The final package of workers’ compensation reform bills was passed by the legislature in the last week of session. The measures are set to be reviewed by Governor Henry, and await his consideration.

Authored by Sen. Coffee, Rep. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Harry Coates, the four bills included House Bills 2650, 2652, 1611 and Senate Bill 1973. Republican leadership has touted the bills as bringing an estimated $60.5 million in savings to businesses, and State Chamber officials said bills would help attract new jobs. These bills would make several changes in state law, including:

· Cap the Partial Payment Disability (PPD) rate at $323 per week for five years.
· Limit Permanent Total Disability to 100-percent Social Security retirement age or 15 years, whichever is longer.
· Tighten definitions of "major cause” and "objective medical evidence” and further define what is a work-related activity for purposes of being covered under the workers' compensation act.
· Increase the power of the Physician Advisory Council and require the court to follow its recommendations unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
· Reduce the number of Workers’ Compensation Court judges from 10 to 8.
· Require five judges to be permanently assigned to Oklahoma City and three to Tulsa.
· Restrict judges to one eight-year term.
· Allow the state Supreme Court to review workers' compensation claims just like any other civil case and require that the claimant shall be in attendance unless all parties agree.
· Require all claims adjusters to have six hours of continuing education on Oklahoma's workers' compensation act.

All of these bills await Gov Henry’s review and consideration.


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