April 13, 2012

Maine Voices: Proposed workers' comp changes balance needs of all involved

Maine's current law puts the state out of step with the rest of the nation.

By PETER M. GORE

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Furthermore, this section of our law is a magnet for litigation -- which while greatly helping trial attorneys to grab big settlements -- may not help the injured workers get back to work and recover their life fully.

The law as written makes Maine an outlier. No other state guarantees that 25 percent of all injured workers -- regardless of their ability to work -- may be eligible for lifetime benefits. This proposal brings Maine in line with the vast majority of other states.

Lastly, despite Mr. Wuerffel's assertions, Maine remains a high-cost state when it comes to workers' compensation. Although costs have declined, Maine is still a state with high workers' compensation costs: NCCI places Maine in the top 10 of the most costly states they rate, and the most recent Oregon study ranked Maine as having the 9th highest costs.

Maine employers want a system that works for both employers and employees, one that protects those most seriously injured and encourages and assists injured workers in going back to work quickly.

These debates are never easy, and the type of scare tactics employed by Mr. Wuerffel doesn't help. We are all in this together as a state, and we can and must continue to improve upon the laws we have to move our state forward.

Peter M. Gore is vice president for advocacy and government relations at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

 

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