Workers' comp proposal could save Oklahoma businesses big bucks

A cost analysis estimates Oklahoma employers could save as much as $969 million in workers' compensation costs each year if Senate Bill 1062 is passed. Critics say the bill chips away at employee rights and does little to address medical costs.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Modified: February 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm •  Published: February 27, 2013

Proposed cuts to benefits for injured employees in Oklahoma could amount to $145 million in savings in workers' compensation costs for employers each year, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

But a cap on medical reimbursements included in an earlier draft of the legislation — missing from Senate Bill 1062 — could have increased savings by as much as $12 million more.

Nathan Atkins, spokesman for Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, said he won't comment on earlier versions of the legislation. But the final version — proposed last week and set for a vote by the full Senate on Wednesday — includes cost savings that will have a substantial impact on reducing costs for state employers.

“This is a game-changing piece of legislation,” Atkins said. “This is something that could be a national model.”

The cost analysis released Tuesday was prepared by National Council on Compensation Insurance, a licensed rating organization used by Oklahoma and 37 other states, and will have no bearing on actual premium changes instituted should the bill become law.

According to the analysis, savings associated with workers' compensation — including the shortening of deadlines for an employee to file for benefits and reductions in both benefit amounts and duration of eligibility — would constitute almost 99 percent of explicit employer savings.

Other savings, including a switch from a court-based system to an administrative one and an allowance for some employers to opt out of the system altogether, could bring total annual savings to $969 million each year, according to the analysis.

But critics said they are skeptical of a bill that attempts to reduce workers' compensation costs — up to a billion each year, according to some estimates — without approaching steepening medical costs.

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This is a game-changing piece of legislation. This is something that could be a national model.”

Nathan Atkins,
spokesman for Senate

Pro Tem Brian Bingman

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