Lawmaker Suggests Review of Denied Workers Comp Claims

December 14, 2007

North Dakota’s workers compensation agency should undertake a new review of some denied benefit claims from injured workers, a lawmaker says.

Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, said the review is needed because of suggestions from the internal auditor of Workforce Safety and Insurance that some claims have been improperly denied.

“If they’re making mistakes today, we don’t want them to continue making mistakes,” Keiser said. “If, on the other hand, what they’re doing is valid, we need to know that, too.”

Keiser is chairman of the North Dakota House’s Industry, Business and Labor Committee, and the chairman of a separate interim legislative committee that reviews workers compensation claims from employees who are willing to open their files.

Sebald Vetter, a spokesman for a disabled workers’ advocacy group, called Keiser’s proposal a “gimmick,” while Rep. Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, the House minority leader, said the Legislature’s majority Republicans declined to take similar steps during the 2007 Legislature.

Boucher described the proposal as a “damage control measure” in response to troubles at Workforce Safety and Insurance, including the dismissal of its chief executive officer.

“Keiser had the opportunity during the last legislative session to make these proposals happen,” Boucher said.

Mark Armstrong, a WSI spokesman, said the agency would review Keiser’s ideas. The agency is not required to do what Keiser is proposing.

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