A conference committee made up of members of the Texas House of Representatives and the state Senate worked out a compromise on workers’ compensation system reform that had stalled in the legislative process.
The Insurance Council of Texas congratulated the members of the joint conference committee, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick for their leadership in ending the standoff over legislation to reform the Texas workers’ compensation system. Their efforts have paid off and produced a reform bill – HB 7 – that will result in an improved workers’ compensation system, ICT said.
“The new workers’ compensation system will allow the state to dispose of antiquated rules and procedures that only stagnated the system for insurers, healthcare providers, employers and employees,” said Steve Nichols, manager of the Workers’ Compensation Services at ICT. “HB 7 provides for medical networks, increased benefits and a new oversight process that will discourage fraudulent behavior. All of these things will breathe fresh air into a system that had waited far too long for a major overhaul.”
ICT said Chairmen Todd Staples and Burt Solomons are to be commended for laying the groundwork for the reform of the state’s workers compensation system that will encourage Texas businesses to become a part of the only voluntary workers compensation program in the country.
Announcing the compromise, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also praised Staples and Solomons.
“Today the Texas Senate and the House of Representatives reached an agreement on a workers’ compensation reform package that will drastically improve the quality of care for injured workers in Texas, while lowering costs for Texas businesses,” Dewhurst stated. “Texas’ workers’ comp system today is a broken system, where businesses pay exorbitant costs for care that fails to return injured employees to health and to work. I applaud Senator Todd Staples and Representative Burt Solomons for their hard work over the eighteen months to reform a system that is integral to both the health of injured workers and the health of our Texas economy.”
The compromise reportedly allows the creation of medical care networks; places a strong emphasis on return-to-work; increases income benefits for workers; and creates an agency to advocate for injured workers.
Each chamber is expected to vote on the legislation over the Memorial Day weekend.
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