N.Y. Gov. Spitzer Cites Workers’ Comp Reform as Legislative Priority

January 4, 2007

In his first report to the state, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer included reforms of the state’s workers compensation and health care systems among the priorities in an ambitious legislative agenda.

He said the two systems are failing both the people who use them and those who pay for them.

As part of his economic plan for the state, he cited a need to reduce New York’s cost structure – the “perfect storm of unaffordability” – for both businesses and people and he included the cost of workers’ compensation and health care in the equation.

He cited workers’ compensation as a place to start to reduce the cost of doing business in the Empire State.

“We must start with our workers’ compensation system, a system that does not work for anyone: not the employers who pay some of the highest premiums in the country, and not the workers who receive some of the lowest benefits,” he said in his address.

Spitzer disclosed that he has already commenced discussions with the Legislature and representatives from both business and labor “to arrive at a solution that will lower employer premiums, while increasing worker benefits for the first time since 1992.”

A solution must also make it easier for workers to get the medical treatment they want and need so they can get back to work, he maintained.

In the area of health care, he called for a major restructuring that includes the closing and consolidation of some hospitals, a shift in spending away from institutionalized nursing homes to community and home-based alternatives, an attack on Medicaid fraud and utilizing the state’s leverage to negotiate lower drug prices.

“No one can afford health care anymore – not New York’s working families, not our businesses and not our government,” he said.

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