Rocky McElhaney of the Tennessee Association for Justice recently delivered a fine rebuttal of the proposed workers' compensation reform, HB 194, before Representative Jimmy Eldridge's committee. For those who want more details, the TNJ has published a detailed analysis of the bill. This clearly identifies 'the most unkindest cut of all', to use Shakespeare's language:
The Administration's bill abandons assessing an individual's vocational disability as a public policy and adopts a community or uniform loss of use standard.
Ms. Hudgens in her testimony of March 5 positively gloated over this uniformity - everyone getting the exact same payment for the exact same injury. Friends, human beings don't work that way. According to the AMA Guides, Sixth Edition:
In disability evaluation, the impairment rating is one of several determinants of disablement.
Current Tennessee law determines an employee's loss of earning power by considering the employee's age, skills, education, job training, job opportunities, and other factors. The governor's proposed system would make this determination almost entirely on a non-treating doctor's determination of permanent impairment. Sound fair so far? Nobody has a say in this new system except the governor's appointees, not even the General Assembly.
This is also true of the medical care provided injured employees under the new system. The doctor's independent medical judgement is not required; the government prescribes the treatment in detail. There is no flexibility anywhere in the system Haslam has laid out.
Of course, Governor Haslam and Ms. Hudgens know this rigid, unrealistic system is necessary to attract new employers. They have 'anecdotal evidence from employers' - if you or I brought in 'anecdotal evidence' of anything, they'd laugh at us.
Meanwhile, less than 1% of workers' compensation claims go to court. Payouts have decreased 41% since 2004. 77% of state workers' compensation claims are 'medical only' - money goes to the doctors, not the employees. In fact, 67 cents of every compensation dollar goes to doctors.
Sorry, Governor - you're being downright mean.