West Virginia workers’ compensation reforms, including the privatization of the Workers’ Compensation Commission are a mystery to residents according to the results of a poll released today by RMS Strategies. In a telephone poll, conducted between May 11 and 18, 40 percent of West Virginians questioned said they had read, seen or heard very little about workers’ compensation reforms and 21 percent said they had heard “nothing at all.”
Based on the results of the poll, the Workers Compensation Commission has launched a seven-month long educational program to educate the public about the reforms and what effect privatization will have on them.
Andrew Wessels, director of corporate affairs for the Workers’ Compensation Commission, said that other research has shown similar results.
“Outside the immediate Charleston area, few realize that the Workers’ Compensation Commission transitions to a private employers’ mutual company on Jan. 1,” Wessels told the Charleston Daily Mail.
According to the poll of 401 registered voters, more than half said they have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the reforms, while 25 percent reported a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion.
“On the favorability question, I believe the results can be attributed to the commission’s remarkable progress in the two years since passage of the first reform bill in July 2003,” Wessels said.
That bill restored fiscal solvency to the system and established a number of sound business practices.
Though respondents said they generally supported the reforms, 46 percent said they oppose making the system a private company, as it will become the first day of 2006.
The company will sell workers compensation insurance to businesses. The premiums paid will go into a fund available to pay workers for possible injuries sustained on the job.
Trained RMS Strategies interviewers used random-digit dialing generated by computer to select respondents, who represented all 55 counties.
The sample was designed to include a representative portion of registered voters based on age, gender, race, family income and political party affiliation. Both listed and unlisted telephone households had an equal chance of being selected.
RMS Strategies is 95 percent certain that results won’t be more than plus or minus 4.9 percent off the actual mark for all registered voters in the state with telephones.
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