INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) says she is extremely disappointed that a bill she authored to bring Indiana’s workers’ compensation benefits in line with other states will not receive a hearing this year. The legislation, Senate Bill 346, was not given a public hearing in a Senate committee before the recent deadline.
Sen. Tallian says the bill is important this year because Indiana ranks 49th in the nation workers’ compensation benefits and will continue to fall further behind other states without benefit adjustments.
“Without the periodic increases normally approved by the General Assembly, our workers’ compensation benefits will not keep pace with the rise in the cost of living,” Sen. Tallian said. “This is another case where the welfare of workers is being ignored.”
Senate Bill 346 would have increased the maximum average weekly wages used as a base in calculating the temporary disability weekly wage. The bill would also have increased the benefit amounts for permanent partial impairment. Under the proposal, the cost to increase benefits for workers would be offset by the savings realized by decreasing the medical reimbursement rate and could be used to keep premiums on businesses from increasing.
Historically, the schedule for the Permanent Partial Impairment payment, which is paid in the event that medical treatment cannot return the worker to pre-injury health, has been updated every few years in Indiana Code. The last rate increase was effective in 2010 and no increase is scheduled without action by the legislature.
In addition, there have also been periodic maximum wage adjustments in Indiana Code to gradually increase the maximum average weekly wage. The last time the cap was raised for the maximum average weekly wage was effective in 2009, and there is no scheduled increase.
Sen. Tallian filed a similar bill in 2011, which was sent for further review by a summer study committee. During the legislative interim, the Interim Study Committee on Insurance heard testimony on Indiana’s workers’ compensation program, including current issues affecting the program and possible legislative remedies.
Source: Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus