2004 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM
Following is The Business Council's 2004 Legislative Program. It identifies priority issues to be addressed by the Committees and Councils during 2004.
- Provide payment of benefits in a non-scheduled partial impairment case to 500 weeks.
- Adopt objective medical guidelines to determine the degree of disability
in permanent partial disability cases. The guidelines should consider
both anatomic and functional disability in permanent partial disability
cases and should provide a standardized, replicable method for physicians
to use to determine comprehensive, whole person impairment percentages.
Forty-six other states use objective medical guidelines, which ensure
that medical providers evaluate similar cases using consistent criteria.
In New York, different medical providers reach different conclusions
about the extent of impairment in similar cases. This outcome helps
make permanent partial claims the overwhelming reason for the high
cost of New York’s workers’ compensation system.
- Support measures to reduce the state assessment that supports the "second injury fund" from the statutorily prescribed formulas of 150 percent of the fund's prior year disbursements, minus net assets, to 110 percent of prior year disbursements.
- Provide scheduled awards to one-half the claimants total disability for periods that do not represent actual lost time.
- Support partial benefit offset when the claimant begins to receive, or becomes eligible for full social security benefits.
- Support partial benefit offset when the claimant begins to receive, or becomes eligible for an employee pension benefit plan that has been fully funded by the employer.
- Support legislation to reduce the cost of workers' compensation insurance, including state-imposed assessments used to support the Workers Comp board and other special funds.
- Support amendments to sections 240 and 241 of the labor law to create a comparative negligence standard on third party suits.
- Support amendments to sections 21 and 47 of the workers' compensation law that require a preponderance of the evidence to support and award under this law.
- Support regulation or legislation that defines independent contractors.
- Support prohibiting payment of workers' compensation benefits, similar to limits found in the disability law, if the employee's injury was sustained during the perpetration of an illegal act or if the injury occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Base legal fees for claimants representatives on the amount of any increase in award received by claimant in excess of the initial offer from the insurer or self-insurer.
- Suspend indemnity benefits if a partially disabled claimant refuses to apply for, or interview for, an employment opportunity within his current functional capability.
- Limit the number of chiropractor visits to those authorized by a referring physician and require the physician to reevaluate the treatment plan after ten chiropractic visits.
- Require that all insurers and self-insurers provide a monthly list, in electronic form, to the New York State Workers' Compensation Board of all claims currently receiving indemnity payments for matching with existing state database of employed workers.
- Reform provisions that impose absolute liability for construction
and work site injuries on contractors and building owners, regardless
of fault. New York State is the only state which imposes such a liability
standard. Simply stated, a contractor or owner is liable for virtually
any gravity related injury suffered by a worker on a job site - even
if an employee ignored company safety policies, or was intoxicated,
drug induced or in the process of committing a crime when the injury
occurred. Section 240-241 cases make up over 50% of all third party
liability cases. Imposing a negligence standard would reduce costs significantly,
as well as increase work site safety.