A recent blog post covered an NPR and ProPublica article addressing the movement for states to opt out of state-run worker's compensation plans and creating their own "plans" to covered injured workers. The movement is being led by states such as Texas and Oklahoma, and companies that insist their self-created plans benefit workers. The new research shows this is clearly not the case and is being promoted by companies in order for them to save money. The problem is that when companies shift the cost of work injuries back to the employee, the employee has no choice but to turn to other government aid such as Medicaid and Social Security Disability benefits, causing taxpayers to shoulder the burden of work injuries that should remain with the employer.
Legislators are taking notice of the trend and the detrimental effects it will have if states are allowed to continue this practice. Democrats on Senate and House committees are now urging the Labor Department to look at what is happening in states that opt out of worker's compensation plans and are pushing for change to be implemented by the Legislature. A 2007 study estimated that the new trend and shift away from worker's compensation plans is costing government programs $30 billion per year. Although worker's compensation is state regulated, a federal change must be made in order to prevent the strain on federal benefits and to protect workers in all states.