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March 2, 2000

Council rep to help study 'special funds'

A member of The Council's Workers' Compensation Committee will represent The Council on a state commission studying special funds in New York's workers' comp system.

Patrick McLaughlin, training manager for United Parcel Service for upstate New York, was named to the commission by the Governor, who created the commission last March with strong Council support.

The commission is to review the purposes, effectiveness, and financial conditions of the funds, including payout patterns, assessment patterns, and unfunded liabilities.

New York's workers' comp system includes several special funds intended to ensure long-term payout of certain claims. The costs of these special funds are distributed among all employers in the state.

Some of these funds were created by the original law; others were a response to emerging issues or circumstances, said Kerry Kirwan, The Council's workers' comp specialist.

For example, the Second Injury Fund was created after World War II to offer the prospect of additional benefits to partially disabled veterans. The goal was to encourage employers to hire vets, she said.

Special-funds assessments constitute about 6 percent of the workers' compensation premium paid by New York's employers.

Some Business Council members have raised questions about the continuing need for these funds, their high costs, and their unfunded liabilities, Kirwan said. Moreover, some have argued that the Americans With Disabilities Act made the Second Injury Fund unnecessary.

In 1998, The Business Council's workers' compensation committee added a subcommittee to evaluate the value of these funds to both workers and employers.