AAI Hails Passage of Fla. Workers’ Comp Reform Bill

May 29, 2003

The Alliance of American Insurers (AAI) says that a bill that passed the Florida Legislature late Tuesday will substantially limit the soaring cost of insuring workers in the state against injuries and boost Florida’s economy.

The legislation (SB 50A) will reportedly cut costs of workers’ compensation insurance, limit attorney costs and fight fraud.

“This bill will result in substantial cost savings because it contains substantially all of the reform elements recommended by the Coalition of Business and Insurance Industry, of which the Alliance is a major participant,” William Stander, government affairs representative for the Alliance’s Southeast Region, remarked.

The bill is expected to reduce workers’ compensation rates by at least 12 percent, very close to the 14 percent decrease requested by Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

Stander noted that Florida businesses pay the nation’s second-highest rates for workers’ compensation insurance, while injured workers get the second-lowest benefit levels. “If implemented correctly, the cost-cutting measures in this bill will substantially reduce costs to businesses and could actually increase benefits to workers,” he said.

“The reduced costs should reportedly help lower overhead for Florida businesses, giving the state’s economy a needed lift and indirectly creating more jobs for Florida citizens, particularly in the small-business arena, where high workers’ compensation costs have the most negative impact,” Stander said. “For these reasons, the Alliance urges Gov. Bush to sign SB 50A into law as quickly as possible.”

The House passed the bill, with amendments, 82-35. The Senate later accepted the changes on a party-line vote, 25-14.

Reform elements recommended by the Coalition were:
·Limits hourly on attorney fees to medical-only cases and then caps the amount;
·Reductions of hospital fee schedules;
·Increased fraud penalties;
·Further restrictions on exemptions from workers’ compensation coverage;
Elimination of other inappropriate cost increase provisions.

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