State legislators in Raleigh are continuing to draft a reformed workers’ compensation program that they say should cut down on fraud, waste and make it tougher for employers to skip out on paying for it when they should.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers know that this could be a mixed bag, and it’s tough to tell at this point whether the reforms will indeed be fair or skewed in favor of the employer, which is most often the case when politicians stark talking about fraud.
As we recently reported in our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Blog, state workers have already voiced concern that the measures proposed by the nine-member, Republican North Carolina Legislative Services Commission would ultimately reduce their benefits.
But lawmakers say that while fraud is a major concern, it’s equally important to ensure that employers who are supposed to carry insurance for workers’ compensation actually do so. An April 2012 expose by the News & Observer showed some 30,000 companies across the state did not pay for workers’ compensation insurance when they should have – meaning their employees were unprotected in the event of a job injury. (These same businesses were also unsurprisingly found to be cutting corners on other types of insurance and their taxes, while state officials lacked the technology and resources to uncover these problems).
Lawmakers had previously instructed the North Carolina Industrial Commission, the entity responsible for handling workers’ compensation claims, to tighten the purse-strings on payouts for work-related injuries. Those changes are slated to go into effect this year in April. At that point, inpatient services reimbursements are going to be slashed by 10 percent, surgery services will be cut by 15 percent and implant services reimbursements will be capped at a little less than 30 percent.
The industrial commission has also recently noted that it is working to help identify each of the businesses that are illegally skirting laws mandating workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It is working on creating an automated database, but that could be a ways off. Ultimately, the commission has said it wants to catch businesses that may be misrepresenting the scope of their work in order to sidestep requirements to buy injury insurance for their workers, as well as paying certain taxes.
In order to help reach this goal, some of the measures that the legislative services commission plans to introduce includes:
- A law that would make employers’ workers’ compensation coverage information public once again;
- A law that would compel certain state agencies that maintain business records to turn those records over to the state controller in order for them to be reviewed for potential fraud;
- A law that would provide instruction for a study that would determine ways to cut both the number of individual workers’ compensation claims, as well as the dollar amounts paid on each individual claim.
That last measure in particular is concerning to us, and illustrates to you why it’s critical to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to handle your claim and ensure you receive the reimbursement you deserve.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Legislators suggest ways to detect workers’ comp insurance fraud, Jan. 30, 2013, By Mandy Locke, Charlotte News O rver
More Blog Entries
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Study May End in Fewer Benefits, Jan. 29, 2013, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog