Gov. Phil Bredesen’s call to action to reform the Tennessee workers’ compensation system this year is welcomed news, a representative of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies said Thursday.
In a speech to the Tennessee Industrial Development Council, the governor called on Lt. Gov. John Wilder and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh to convene the Select Committee on Workers’ Compensation, and with key cabinet members acting as advisors, open a dialogue on the workers’ comp system. The governor added that he did not want this to be “just another blue-ribbon panel,” but rather “this is an issue that I want addressed in short order this year.”
“The state’s workers’ compensation system is unlike any other in the country,” said David Reddick, Tennessee state affairs manager for NAMIC. Reddick noted that a study of 15 states conducted last year by the non-profit Workers’ Compensation Research Institute found that the average medical payment per claim in Tennessee was $7,218, second only to Texas, with an average of $8,048 per medical claim.
NAMIC would reportedly like the state to develop a better system for reviewing workers’ comp claims, a more orderly system for determining disability benefits and a medical fee schedule to help contain costs.
“It is certainly time for Tennessee to adopt reforms more in line with the rest of the country,” Reddick added. “We look forward to working with state legislators to help create a system that makes Tennessee competitive with neighboring states.”
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