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Workers' compensation bill represents step forward

For employees across the country, the safety net provided by workers' compensation is a vital part of their job security, especially for those working in high-risk environments. Unfortunately, as Colorado workers are keenly aware, not every workers' compensation program works as it is supposed to function. Indeed, many state-level systems charge premiums that are exorbitantly high, meaning companies may provide less coverage to their employees.

For some states, the problem lies in how compensation cases are handled. Often, cases are seen by as many as 10 judges sitting on a Compensation Court. This can artificially inflate the level of complexity in dealing quickly and efficiently with compensation cases, a necessity when workers are rendered unable to work due to injury or illness. The complexity of this system contributes to high premiums, effectively creating a circular system of failings that keeps workers' compensation from those who need it most.

Some states are working to combat this issue by enacting new legislation designed to address the problems inherent in the system. Replacing the workers' compensation courts with an administrative process can help ease the pressure on the system and speed up the processing of cases. It also removes the competitive element of these cases by no longer pitting employee against employer, which in turn drives up prices and slows down processes.

Colorado, like most states, may benefit by prioritizing the reduction of premiums for workers' compensation while ensuring injured workers get the treatment they require as quickly as possible. The current system is flawed, and policies may need to be revisited in order to effect positive change for employers and employees alike. While Colorado rates are currently lower than many other states throughout the country, the situation can always be improved.

Source: newsok.com, "Business official: Workers' comp bill offers fresh approach for Oklahoma," Jerrod Shouse, March 22, 2013

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