HB 709: NC Workers’ Compensation Rights Threatened

The current legislative session includes an attack on the rights of working North Carolinians. This attack is so-called workers’ compensation “reform.” The workers’ compensation reform the Republicans (NC Chamber of Commerce, big businesses, insurance industry) and a few DINOs are pushing is contained in HB 709. This bill limits the number of weeks of compensation an injured worker can draw, even if he/she is still disabled and unable to return to work. All lost wage and medical benefits through the workers’ compensation insurance company will stop.

This limitation of benefits will result in taxpayers supporting injured workers through Social Security Disability, Medicare and/or Medicaid. Something like this would normally elicit howls of pain from Tea Partiers and average Republicans alike, but the NCGOP nonetheless endorses the provision as payoff to the insurance industry for past support. If an injured worker has permanent work limitations, but is not totally disabled, the bill also requires him to go to work at any type job he can find, whether or not the job is comparable to the job in which he was injured. That will result in a school teacher or electrician being required to go to work at a minimum wage type job after an injury.

Other terrible things in store for injured NC workers if HB 709 passes are: 1. the Industrial Commission will be prohibited from approving any treating doctor other than the ‘company’ doctors the insurance company picks; 2. The Industrial Commission cannot consider testimony from any doctor other than the doctors the insurance company picks, even if the injured worker pays for his own doctor; and 3. Insurance company employees, employers and defense attorneys will be able to confer with the injured worker’s doctors, i.e. tell the doctors what to do, without the worker’s knowledge. If this bill passes, injured workers in NC don’t have much of a chance at receiving justice.

The only way to defeat this outrageous bill is for enough NC citizens to express opposition to their state representatives. So if this bill sounds like a bad idea to you, please take a few minutes to contact your state reps:

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