“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”
Michael Corleone, Godfather, Part III
When Michael confronts Connie and Neri in the kitchen of his townhouse, he warns them to never give an order to kill someone again (in this case, it was Joey Zaza), and goes on to state that when he thought he had left the mob lifestyle, they pull him back.
Thus, is the case with opt-out, as I discussed in my last post on the subject.
Kristen Beckman, in today’s Business Insurance, reminds us that opt-out, like the Mob, is pulling us back into the conversation.
As I reported last time, a bill in Arkansas, Senate Bill 653, pending in that state’s legislature’s Insurance & Commerce Committee since the beginning of March, proposes an alternative to the state system.
Ms. Beckman quotes Fred C. Bosse (not Fred C. Dobbs), the southwest region vice president of the American Insurance Association (AIA), who said that the bill is an attempt to keep the workers comp opt-out conversation going.
Mr. Bosse said that the AIA takes these bills seriously (good for them) and engages legislators to dissuade progress of such legislation the AIA believes could create an unequal benefit system for employees. (They haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid either)
Arkansas’ bill is the only legislation currently under consideration, but a state Rep in Florida, Cord Byrd (there’s a name for you), a Republican (it figures) from Jacksonville Beach, promoted legislation last year, but never filed it.
South Carolina and Tennessee, where bills were previously introduced within the past two years has gone nowhere.
And once again ARAWC rears its ugly head. For those of you unfamiliar with ARAWC, or the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation, it is a right-wing lobbying and legislation writing group based in Reston, Virginia. (see several other posts on ARAWC on this blog)
A statement ARAWC sent to BI said that these bills are beginning to pop up organically to model benefits that companies have seen from Texas’ non-subscription model. (Organically? That’s like saying mushroom clouds organically popped up over Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
Here’s a laugh for you, straight from the ARAWC statement:
“Outcomes and benefits for injured workers have improved, employers are more competitive when costs are contained and taxpayers are well served by market-driven solutions,” They further said, “We recognize that each state is different and that the discussions at the state level will involve varied opinions.”
Of course, we cannot really know if injured workers are benefitting, or just being denied their rights, and it seems that opt-out is only to help employers and taxpayers get out of their responsibility to those who sustain serious injuries while employed.
In another post, the notion that Texas’ system could serve as a model for other states was outlined in a report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (don’t you just love the names of these reactionary groups?)
Bill Minick, president of PartnerSource, praised the report, according to Ms. Beckman, and said that competition has driven down insurance premium rates and improved benefits for Texas workers. (That’s what he says, but is any of it true, I wonder? I doubt it.)
ARAWC has listed a laundry list of benefits they say responsible alternative comp laws could provide:
- Better wage replacement
- Reduced overall employer costs
- Faster return to work
- Fewer claims disputes (yeah, because they would be denied)
- Faster claim payouts
- Faster closure (well, when you deny claims, they can be closed faster, duh!)
It is good to know that the AIA is critical of the report, and that in their opinion, it is unworkable to allow employers to adopt a separate, but unequal system of employee benefits.
And as we have seen with the defeat of the AHCA, leaving a government-sponsored program up to market-driven forces is a recipe for disaster that should not be repeated in workers’ comp, no matter what flavor the Kool-Aid comes in.