Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak applauds the leadership of Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman in the passage of State Bill 1062 in the House today. The bill is set to change the current court-based workers' compensation system to an administrative system and give the option of developing an alternative benefit plan to qualified employers.
“Workers’ Compensation reform is a subject that I identified as critical and important to our state from the moment I was elected,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “Oklahoma has one of the highest average costs of Workers Compensation benefits in the nation at a rate of $830 per employee. Because Arkansas and Texas are under $300 per employee, this has not only had an impact on our state economy, but also limits the growth of local businesses.”
SB 1062 would establish prompt responses to employees in the claims process and encourage employers to do the right thing in a more user-friendly, less adversarial environment.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department conducted a recent statewide tour providing opportunities to discuss current workers’ compensation concerns and the possibility of various future reform measures. High costs and fraud are listed as the biggest problems with Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system, according to survey responses received during the public forums discussing workers’ compensation concerns.
“I appreciate that Rep. Richard Morrissette recognized on the floor during debate today the hard work that my department put into this bill, even though he disagreed with our position,” continued Doak. “Ultimately, I understand the burden Oklahoma businesses have felt with the increasing costs and I can also relate to the pain suffered by injured employees who are trapped by a benefit system unresponsive to their needs.”
Survey respondents also identified a key solution to workers’ compensation problems to be the implementation of an administrative system to replace the current court-based claim system. A majority of states have adopted a structure for workers’ compensation claim administration.
State Bill 1062 will go back to the Senate for vote as the next step after passing through the House today.