Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire today was joined by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, House Speaker Frank Chopp, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt and House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt to announce an agreement on workers’ compensation. Gregoire issued the following statement on negotiations surrounding workers’ compensation reform:
“This session we have made significant progress to create a sustainable workers’ compensation system that benefits both our workforce and employers. We established Centers of Occupational Health and Education and a medical provider network to deliver proven, high-quality health care services. Yet we recognize there is more to be accomplished.
“Our workers’ compensation system is facing troubling trends that, if not addressed, will continue to exert increased financial pressures.
“Without action, our workers’ compensation system faces double-digit rate increases and serious questions about its long-term health. I identified three goals for workers’ compensation:
- Get injured workers back on the job as quickly as possible;
- Avoid double-digit rate increases; and
- Bend the cost curve on escalating pension costs.
“Among several provisions, the agreement reached today promotes getting workers back on the job faster, freezes COLAs to ensure parity with others and provides the option of a structured claims settlement. This option will be one of three available to injured workers and is voluntary, negotiated and allows legal representation.
“All parties came together to agree to some of the largest reforms in the system’s 100-year history.”
Source: WA Governor’s Office