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May 20, 2004

With new pressure on workers' comp costs, Council renews its 'e-advocacy' campaign

In the wake of the proposed 29 percent increase in workers' compensation rates, the Business Council plans to renew its "electronic advocacy" effort to advance the case for cost-cutting workers' compensation reforms.

The Council originally launched a Web-based "e-advocacy" campaign Feb. 17 to enable visitors to its Web site, to automatically write to their elected officials voicing support for workers' comp reform and opposition to a benefits-increase bill that includes no significant reforms.

In the earlier e-advocacy iniatiative, more than 1,700 individuals generated more than 8,200 faxed letters to the Governor and legislators urging cost-cutting reforms.

As word filtered out this week of the New York's Compensation Insurance Rating Board (CIRB) proposal to increase workers' compensation premiums by 29 percent, The Council decided to renew its e-advocacy effort.

The proposed rate increase is "stunning and frightening," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. What's more, he added, the proposed increase makes an already strong case for workers' comp reform even more compelling.

Participants in The Council's e-advocacy campaign are able to send new letters to their elected officials protesting the proposed hike.

"Workers' comp costs in New York remain far above national averages and continue to have a major impact on the competitiveness of the state's business community," a typical revised letter says. "Now the Compensation Insurance Rating Board (CIRB) wants to make my costs even higher, with a 29 percent premium hike. Business just can't bear the weight of these mounting costs."

The e-advocacy campaign has gone through several revisions, as new workers' compensation reform proposals are introduced.

After Governor Pataki introduced his reform proposal March 23 at The Council's Small Business Day, The Council modified the initiative so that participants can send new, separate letters to both the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and their elected officials.

The letters also urge legislators to adopt much-needed compensation reform included in a proposal now working its way through the Legislature.

"We need your vote to support reform legislation from Senator Libous and Assemblyman Schimminger (S.5320/A.8862)," a letter says. "It would implement meaningful objective medical guidelines, put a durational limit on partial disability payments, and implement other reforms that would make our workers' comp system more like those in our competitor states."