US DOL Briefing to Review State Workers’ Compensation: Recommend Federal Oversight

On October 5th the US Department of Labor in coordination with the National Academy of Social Insurance will release two reports reviewing state workers’ compensation.

  • The Department of Labor’s State Workers’ Compensation Report, which addresses recent trends in state workers’ compensation systems and the effect of these trends on workers, employers, and communities; and
  • The National Academy of Social Insurance’s report with the latest data on benefits, coverage, and costs in workers’ compensation.

The annual data report will go through the basic benefit, coverage and cost data, but the US DOL report is said to address “recent trends in state workers’ compensation systems and the effect of these trends on workers, employers, and communities”. We are not aware that the US DOL report has been circulated for comment by business representatives or states or worker representatives and we would only be speculating that it may have been developed with reference to recent stories by NPR and Propublica which raised concerns about state workers’ compensation. It may also have been prompted by the letter from  9 Senior Democrat Senators and Ranking House Members and Senator Bernie Sanders who suggested that the Secretary of Labor conduct a review (see attached letter below)

In the letter the federal officeholders indicated that they would “welcome a report from the Department on how it will reinstate oversight of state workers’ compensation programs, what areas it intends to address, and whether added authorities are needed to better ensure that the interests of injured workers and taxpayers are protected”.

As employers, states, insurance carriers and worker representatives well know there has never been federal “oversight of state workers’ compensation programs” and federal requirements imposed on a national basis would be inconsistent with the state workers’ compensation system, which has been in place for more than 100 years without federal oversight.

We can expect that the report released on October 5th  will be part of a renewed movement to impose federal requirements on state workers’ compensation that will be taken up in the next Congress and in the next administration.

The reports and statement from the Secretary of Labor are open to the public only as they are released  and a notice to participate in a discussion about the presentations is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dol-nasi-state-workers-compensation-forum-tickets-27729562869

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