Assemblyman Joe Giglio (R,I,C-Gowanda) today expressed fervent support of an agreement reached by lawmakers and Governor Eliot Spitzer to reform the state’s workers’ compensation system that has ranked among the highest in the nation in employer costs.
“The agreement, which features many proposals my conference and I have championed for several years, benefits workers and employers alike and will help to reestablish New York’s position in a global economy,” said Giglio.
Under the agreement, employer costs will be reduced by a minimum of 10 to 15 percent with savings to grow over time while benefits for injured workers will be increased for the first time in more than a decade.
“Workers’ compensation costs were hurting businesses’ ability to grow and create new jobs,” said Giglio. “I am confident that this agreement will end this negative trend with opportunities for growth becoming a realistic result.”
The workers’ compensation reform agreement includes measures to:
- Provide cost savings to businesses by capping permanent partial disability benefits while continuing medical care, and establishing a safety net to assist injured workers’ return to employment and intervene during cases of severe destitution
- Increase the current maximum weekly benefit rate for injured workers from $400 to $500, and then increases it over a period of four years to two-thirds of the state’s average weekly wage
- Annually index the benefit for injured workers to provide further increases to counter the effect of inflation and increased cost-of-living
- Develop fact-based medical guidelines to determine the degree of impairment
- Expedite the hearing process for claims to ensure fast delivery of compensation and treatment to injured workers encouraging their speedy recovery and return to the workforce
- Close the outdated and costly Second Injury Fund
- Increase penalties for workers’ compensation insurance fraud
- Create transparency in the workers’ compensation system by improving collection of data on premiums and losses.
“Costs have been too high, while benefits have been too low,” said Giglio. “Our agreement will end this discrepancy and I am proud that my conference’s fight to make the business climate in New York stronger while tending to workers’ needs has resulted from these negotiations.”