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October 24, 2001

Council seeks members' ideas on workers' comp reform

The Business Council's workers' compensation specialist is visiting members across the state to learn more about their experiences with the workers' comp system and to seek their ideas for legislative, regulatory, and administrative reforms to that system.

"It seems likely that Albany will consider changes to workers' compensation next year, and both an increase in benefits and cost-cutting reforms are possible," said Kerry Kirwan, The Council's legislative analyst specializing in comp issues.

"We want to talk to any member that has concerns about improving workers' compensation and ideas about how Albany might make those improvements," she added.

In recent weeks, Kirwan has visited members and chambers in Syracuse, Rochester, Plattsburgh, and Binghamton, and similar visits are scheduled in November in Batavia and in Orange County.

The Council has an active Workers' Compensation Committee with more than 600 members. The group meets regularly to discuss comp-related issues, shape The Council's legislative agenda for easing comp costs, and advocate reforms.

Workers' compensation reforms in 1996 prompted some reductions in New York's overall workers' compensation costs, especially premiums. The 1996 reforms limited the ability of third parties to sue New York employers; mandated safety programs for some employers based on safety records; created new anti-fraud protection; and helped reduce costly delays in the workers' comp system

The Council is seeking additional reforms to further reduce costs. These reforms include enactment of objective medical guidelines and reforms to scheduled benefits in certain comp cases.