Fla. Gov. Signs Workers’ Comp Bill Into Law

July 15, 2003

Tuesday’s signing into law of important workers compensation reform legislation by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) will go a long way toward limiting the cost of insuring workers in the state against injury and will boost the Florida economy, according to the Alliance of American Insurers, a long-time advocate of such changes.

The new law (formerly SB 50A) limits attorney costs in workers compensation cases and helps curb fraudulent claims, resulting in expected reductions in workers compensation rates of at least 12 percent. “It contains substantially all of the reform elements recommended by the Coalition of Business and Insurance Industry and an Alliance member-company task force,” William Stander, Southeast regional government affairs representative for the Alliance, a major participant in the Coalition, commented.

“By signing this bill into law, the governor has begun the process of easing the heavy burden that Florida businesses pay each day by cutting the waste and fraud inherent in the state’s current workers compensation system,” Stander said. “Florida businesses currently pay the nation’s second-highest rates for workers compensation insurance, while injured Florida 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,” Dave Anderson, Alliance vice president of workers compensation and health, added. “The reduced costs should 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.”

Reform elements recommended by the Coalition and the Alliance and included in the new law:

·Limit hourly attorney fees to medical-only cases and then caps the amount.
·Reduce hospital fee schedules.
·Increase fraud penalties.
·Further restrict exemptions from workers compensation coverage.
·Eliminate other inappropriate cost increase provisions.

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