Major Retailers like Walmart, Norstrom Advocate To Privatize Workers Comp Coverage
Workers compensation was set up as a form of insurance, managed by the state, that businesses pay into to help workers when they are injured on the job. Workers comp is especially important for employees of dangerous jobs like nursing and construction work.
However, several major corporations are advocating for privatization of workers comp coverage, which can mean it is more difficult for employees to get necessary workers comp coverage when they are injured on the job.
Companies seeking to privatize workers compensation benefits and coverage include Walmart, Nordstrom, Safeway, and Lowe’s. In pursuit of their goal, they have donated money to a lobbyist organization called the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC), which operates in all 50 states to change state-run workers comp to private insurers. The group states that they advocate not to eliminate workers comp, but to provide more “free-market” alternatives to the state-run insurance coverage. However, private coverage could force workers to settle in arbitration rather than in court, or potentially be denied coverage for claims without recourse like that provided by the state government.
Two states – Texas and Oklahoma – already allow employers in all fields to opt out of state-run workers comp coverage. In fact, Texas is the only state that has never required employers to pay into workers comp.
ARAWC has received funding from a number of Southern states, including Florida, Georgia, and Alabama; ARAWC also has lobbyists in both North and South Carolina.
A recently-passed Tennessee bill, which many advocates believe heavily involved ARAWC lobbyists, created spending caps for injured workers, despite the length or severity of injuries. Under the bill, businesses can also select which medical expenses to cover, so workers who suffer from job-caused PTSD or other conditions may not be able to receive necessary financial help.
“This piece of legislation is designed as a cost-saving measure for the employer,” notes Gary Moore, president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. “Anywhere they save a dollar, it costs the employees a dollar. It’s just a shift in costs.”
“It’s the people who are hurt more severely and have ongoing issues who notice a big difference,” says Rick Levy, the legal director for the Texas AFL-CIO. Those people, he says, “are going to find this to be a disaster.”
The Strom Law Firm Helps Injured Workers Secure Workers Compensation Benefits in South Carolina
Injured on the job? The Strom Law Firm will fight to make sure that your interests are protected. The South Carolina workers comp attorneys fights hard to ensure that injured workers receive the treatment necessary to recover. We offer free case evaluations to discuss your injury, so contact us today. 803.252.4800