March 24, 2013

Our View: Workers' comp history shows divided government can work

A private company created in a crisis is now a living example of what cooperation looks like.

The last time we had divided government in Maine was 1991, and everyone remembers what happened. State government shut down for 16 days in a dispute over workers' compensation insurance, which at the time was the most expensive in the country.

What people are less likely to notice is how well the deal struck that summer has worked. Maine's workers comp rates have dropped 40 percent, largely as a result of better safety and injury prevention efforts.

At the center of the reform was Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Co., a private mutual insurance company set up by the state. Earlier this month MEMIC made news again by deciding not to adopt a rate hike it was granted by the Board of Insurance,

The differences over the workers' comp debate were bitter, but they have been happily resolved.

As Maine's current generation of political debates heats up, it's worth remembering what can come when everyone is forced to work together.


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