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June 10, 1999 

Second floor again urges further workers' comp reform

Governor Pataki remains committed to two key workers' compensation reforms that were not part of the 1996 reform package, aides to Governor Pataki said Wednesday.

The reforms are a cap on benefits on permanent partial disability payments and the use of objective medical guidelines to determine the level of impairment in these cases.

If the Legislature does not enact the reforms, the Governor may work to implement them administratively, William Howard, deputy director of state operations, told The Council's workers' compensation committee.

The Governor's proposal encompasses two key reforms not agreed to in the 1996 reform bill, Howard said. He noted that the Senate passed both reforms in 1996.

The proposal leaves room for negotiations, but any reform package must reduce employers' costs by two dollars for every dollar in increased costs, he said.

Howard said that the use of objective medical guidelines would deliver savings estimated at 24.3 percent to employers--making the proposal a good starting for discussions.

About 30 states already have some form of objective medical guidelines; most states also have a cap on permanent partial disability benefits. Those cases account for more than half of New York's workers' compensation costs, said Stacey Hengsterman, The Council's legislative analyst specializing in workers' comp.