Workers' Compensation Overhaul Heads To Full State Senate

Tuesday, February 22nd 2011, 12:14 pm
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A senate committee passed Tuesday Gov. Mary Fallin's overhaul of the workers' compensation system. The bill now heads to the full senate for a vote.

Senate Bill 878 is a comprehensive overhaul of the system and would enact a number of changes to Title 85, the statute outlining the current workers' compensation guidelines. The authors of the bill said it would take aim at skyrocketing medical costs that are making the system more expensive.

The governor has said the reforms would reduce medical and legal costs to Oklahoma businesses, bring quicker resolution to cases, and require all parties to be held accountable. Gov. Fallin said the changes would also prevent fraud and abuse.

Fallin spoke about the need for change to a number of workers and business owners at an Edmond Chamber of commerce luncheon on Tuesday.

"What we find is that there are people who abuse the system that use it as a way of life that may have fraudulent claims and use it as a way of bilking the system," Fallin said.

Bob Burke, a private attorney who handles a number of workers' compensation cases, said he also advocates a crackdown on fraud.

Democrats said they're concerned the bill favors businesses and isn't fair to workers injured on the job.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 along party lines to approve the 215-page bill. Democrats on the committee opposed the measure.