The Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee of the Tennessee House of Representatives met Wednesday, March 6, at 10:30 AM, after Representative Jimmy Eldridge was caught on the open mic vowing to constituents to ram the bill through. Fortunately, Eldridge is not chairman of this particular subcommittee, so the bill and an amendment thereto were actually discussed.
Should you wish to see your legislature in action, be sure to have your Tennessee driver's license with you. All adults had their licenses photostated and made into temporary badges so they could get in. Since there was a great crowd, I didn't ask if you could also use a gun permit for this purpose.
Hearing Room 30 is not by any means big enough for a public "passsionate" about this proposed reform, to use Representative Lynn's words. There are only five rows of public seating, and you will see from the photograph there was standing room only. I was chased out by an usher once before I was finally offered a seat by some friendly Communication Workers' of America. Others also had that experience but were finally allowed to stand in all the aisle space.
I never did grasp what Amendment 3177 to the Workers' Compensation Bill was about; all I heard was talk about Tennessee having higher medical costs than other states. (Where the health care insurance industry is so powerful, is this a surprise to anyone?) Neither Representative Brooks, who presented the amendment and bill, nor Abby Hudgins, the state workers' compensation administrator, gave any indication that workers' compensation insurance corporations exist in Tennessee.
I do not claim to represent any of the workers' compensation insurance companies, but, since I worked in the business for 40 years, I do know how it works. The insurance claims representative works as the 'ombudsman' everybody seems to wish for, and cases only go to court when the insurance companies can't settle them. If they have insurance, employers don't even have to bother with a claim unless it goes to court.
I heard yesterday that Tennessee and Alabama are the only states who use the court system in workers' compensation. What I want to know is how many states have their workers' compensation apparatus run as the governor's fiefdom.