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Senate committee recommends workers' comp bill backed by business, opposed by labor


Topeka — The Senate Commerce Committee on Monday recommended approval of a workers' compensation bill opposed by labor and trial lawyers.

Pro-business interests said Senate Bill 73 updated medical guidelines dealing with workers injured on the job and the employer-paid insurance system to compensate them.

The bill would use the American Medical Association Sixth Edition of injury impairment ratings, rather than the Fourth Edition which is currently used and agreed to two years ago by both sides of workers' comp litigation.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said the proposed change was a mistake.

"I have a huge concern that there are classes of workers out there who will no longer qualify for work disability," under the newer edition, he said.

Trial lawyers and labor officials said the Sixth Edition guidelines were untested and would be confusing to Kansas physicians who had become accustomed to the Fourth Edition.

Holland's amendment to keep the Fourth Edition was rejected.

But several Republicans also expressed concern about changing to the Sixth Edition and an amendment was approved to delay its implementation until 2015.

The committee also removed a proposal in the bill that would have disallowed payment through workers' compensation insurance coverage to undocumented workers.

In addition, Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, successfully amended the bill to shorten to 10 days from 20 days the time an injured worker has to file a workers' comp complaint.

Some on the committee said the shorter period would increase the number of workers' comp disputes because workers would be faced with a tighter deadline to decide to pursue a claim. But Denning said the shorter deadline would encourage workers to get treatment while giving employers more certainty about whether they would face an injured worker claim.


question4u 5 years, 4 months ago

There is no surprise in this. Anything endorsed by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce will be exploitative of workers. It took a purging of ethical legislators to put the Chamber in control of the state's future, but now there is nothing to obstruct the Chamber's morally repugnant agenda. It's particularly despicable to change workers' compensation regulations in order to shirk responsibility for helping those who are hurt on the job, but this is the new normal in Kansas. Tools like Denning will continue to spout blather that only a witless ten-year-old would fall for, and heads will continue to nod vapidly in agreement as the state moves further down its third-world path.

Mike1949 5 years, 4 months ago

As an old hat who has dealt with workman's comp for years, Kansas is one of the worst states that have laws that literately destroys Kansas workers!

tomatogrower 5 years, 4 months ago

What they would really like is not to have to pay for any injuries in the job. They just think people should be grateful that they allow them to come and be in the presence of their company, why should you need to get paid or worry about your safety. You are blessed to be in their presence.

cowboy 5 years, 4 months ago

How can we screw you , let us count the ways.

The system is so weighted against the employee currently it is like being punished for getting hurt . First you have the delays in treatment by Insurance red tape , then the financial hit to your income should you be off work.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 4 months ago

It is Completely Pro Business. It allows companies to NOT pay out on employees hurt on the Job. Great for business. Sucks if you get hurt on the Job. The Lawyers will do well also. If it is Anti anything it is Anti- Workers Rights.

Katara 5 years, 4 months ago

Why don't you tell us about the positive pro-business aspects? You seem to think there are some associated with this bill.

Stephanie Hull 5 years, 4 months ago

What do other states use? Does moving to the 6th edition bring us in line with what others are already doing? Or, do other states use a completely different set of guidelines?

Jonathan Becker 5 years, 4 months ago

1 state uses the 3rd edition, 8 states use the 4th edition, including Kansas, 13 states use the 5th and 14 states, the fed and longshoremen use the 6th. The rest of the states have a state specific guideline (8) or use no guidelines at all (6). The differences between the 4th and 6th are four-fold: (1) certain common injuries get slightly lower impairment rating (IR), while a limited number of types of injuries actually get a markedly higher IR, (2) certain injuries that cause significant radiculopathy get much higher IR; (3) doctors must "show their work"; and (4) a diagnosis-based impairments.

Use of the 6th edition will reduce payouts for common injuries. Certain specific injuries -- wrist ankylosis (loss of range of motion or stiffening of ankle), shoulder injuries, rotor cuff injuries and open fractures with reduction by operation, get a higher IR. MCL and ACL tears get treated no different.

Some docs may not like the "Show your work" requirement, having to demonstrate how they got to their conclusion of an IR. But that sword may cut both ways. If the company doc doesn't show his work, his opinion may be tossed out of any compromise, settlement or judgment.

The biggest difference is that IR must be based upon the diagnosis, not the symptoms or residual symptomology, or loss of use/range of motion/impairments. If the doctor gives a diagnosis leg pain rather than fracture of the femur, the IR will be markedly lower. A diagnosis of wrist injury is going to have lower IR than a diagnosis of loss of hand.

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