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Senate leader: On workers' comp, status quo isn't acceptable

BY STATE SEN. BRIAN BINGMAN Modified: February 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013

The workers' compensation court is supposed to help people who are hurt at work. But Oklahoma's adversarial system doesn't help injured workers get quality, timely care. Rather, we incentivize trial lawyers and a few bad actors to game the judicial system. They drag cases out and drive up the cost of awards. Meanwhile, Oklahoma pays the price.

We want to look at successful states such as Arkansas, where businesses and employees work together in an administrative system to resolve disputes. We're exploring arbitration, restrictions on extravagant legal fees, and alternatives for responsible employers to self-insure under narrow restrictions and guidelines. All options are on the table.

The Administrative Workers' Compensation Act is making its way through the Legislature. This bill will help move Oklahoma forward. It will make the state more attractive to business. It will result in better health outcomes for injured workers.

The status quo is unacceptable. If we're serious about jobs and the economy, we must put the brakes on our runaway workers' compensation system.

Bingman, R-Sapulpa, is president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate.