Florida’s experience with crafting workers’ compensation legislation is a case study in the danger of accepting without challenge the statements of insurance industry lobbyists. One after the other during Florida’s last legislative session (March – May, 2017), insurance industry lobbyists stood before committees of elected officials and made baseless comments for the simple purpose of increasing insurance company profits, without regard for the health and welfare of hard working men and women and their families. None testified under oath so they were free to pull crap from their asses to feed to legislators, which they did in abundance. Had they been required to take an oath, not a one of them would have said a word.
The following article debunks the comments of every insurance industry shill who tried to influence legislation.
By News Service of Florida • Oct 6, 2017
Just a year after dire predictions that the state’s economy was in peril due to rising insurance costs, Florida businesses could see an average 9.3 percent reduction in workers’ compensation premiums in the coming year under a rate filing Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier will consider later this month.
While it may be good news for those who pay the premiums, the proposed reduction filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance presents a hurdle for business lobbyists and special interests who have warned lawmakers for more than a year that a pair of 2016 Florida Supreme Court rulings would drive workers’ compensation rates so high that employers would be forced to slash jobs.
Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, acknowledged that after traveling the state in the summer of 2016 discussing the issue and spending the majority of the 2017 session unsuccessfully pushing a workers’ compensation bill, it’s not a priority this year.
Enthusiasm to tackle the complicated issue has waned since the proposed 9.3 percent reduction was filed in August, he said.
“We still believe the rates are going to go up, but when rates are going down, we don’t have wind in our sails,” Herrle said.
House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, worries about attorney involvement in the workers’ compensation insurance system and has asked members of his committee to receive an update during a meeting next week in Tallahassee.
Nevertheless, Boyd, an insurance agent, acknowledged that there isn’t a need for legislative action if Altmaier approves lower workers’ compensation rates for the coming year.
“I’m not sure doing anything this year would be appropriate or prudent,” Boyd said.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system meant to protect workers and employers. It is supposed to provide workers who are injured on the job access to medical benefits they need to be made whole. Those who are injured for at least eight days also are entitled to indemnity benefits, or lost wages. In exchange for providing those benefits, employers generally cannot be sued in court for causing injuries.
While the system is supposed to be self-executing, injured workers hire attorneys when there are disputes over the amounts of benefits they should receive.