Our Letter to the Editor

Originally Posted on March 21, 2012

Dear Editor,

Once again the Louisiana Association of Self-Insured Employers (LASIE) is launching its annual attack in the legislature on the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. This year they have managed to convince the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI) to side with them. Their proposals would eliminate nearly all rights of injured workers.

In 2008, the Jindal Administration passed Medical Treatment Guidelines to streamline medical treatment and reduce litigation in workers’ compensation claims – and these guidelines are working. The Governor confirms that costs and litigation are down. The insurance companies are receiving more profits. LWCC, the largest insurer, just announced a $23.5 million dividend.  LUBA, another large insurer, is doing so well, they are expanding into other states.

Yet, LASIE/LABI are not happy with this progress. They want more profits. The bills they propose will gut nearly all rights of injured workers. The bills will shift the cost of medical care from insurers to Louisiana taxpayers. House Bills 885, 930 and 959 and their Senate counterparts are the main culprits. Among other things, these bills seek to eliminate the right of the injured worker to choose his or her own doctor. The bills would also repeal the Medical Treatment Guidelines, which LASIE/LABI pushed to enact.

LASIE/LABI also want to create a Workers’ Compensation Review Board to review ALL workers’ compensation decisions. Of course, they overlook the fact that this will require a Constitutional Amendment, and they offer no suggestions on how our cash-strapped State will fund this.

The bottom line for LASIE/LABI is profit. These bills will nearly eliminate all rights of injured workers. Where will injured workers turn for the treatment they need? They will have to seek assistance from the government, either through the Charity Hospital System, or Medicaid and Medicare programs. Who funds these programs?  Taxpayers.

These proposals will privatize profits and socialize risks and costs.

Jim Patterson, a lobbyist for LABI, recently said:   “We’re not doing anything to impact the benefits workers receive.”

Au contraire.