November 17, 2010 – Washington, DC –WorkCompWire– Yesterday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Education & Labor heard testimony on developments in state workers’ compensation systems. In her opening statement, Chairwoman Woolsey (D-CA) noted the rare occurrence of examining state systems by Congress, but noted there were two specific issues today’s testimony would address.
The first issue discussed was the evaluation of permanent impairment and in particular, the use of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Sixth Edition. There have been several reports that suggest use of the 6th Edition will reduce impairment ratings, resulting in lower awards to injured workers. At the same, concerns were raised about the openness and transparency of the standard development process.
The second issue discussed was cost-shifting from state workers’ compensation systems to federal programs like Medicare and Social Security Disability. In a time of record federal deficits this type of cost-shifting is extremely troubling. Emeritus Professor John Burton argued that more stringent eligibility requirements in state workers’ compensation systems might be a contributor to the rise in SSDI applications. While the relationship required further study, this could be increasing the burden of U.S. taxpayers.
In addition to the testimony, Chairwoman Woolsey noted the subcommittee will be asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to do a study and issue recommendations on the impact of cost-shifting.
Testimony was given by the following:
Dean, Northeastern University School of Law
Professor Emeritus, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
Professor Emeritus, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
Commissioner, Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission
Dr. John Nimlos
Occupational Medicine Consultant
W. Frederick Uehlein
Founder and Chairman, Insurance Recovery Group
Click here to view a video recording of the hearing or download a full transcript of the remarks