Perry Signs Workers Compensation Reforms into Law
Calls Reforms a Major Victory for Workers and Employers
Gov. Rick Perry today signed into law the major workers' compensation reform legislation passed by the Texas legislature, House Bill 7.
"I am proud to sign House Bill 7 into law because it will lead to significantly lower workers' compensation costs for Texas employers, control medical costs and expand access to care and improve benefits for those hurt on the job so they can return to work sooner," Perry said. "These reforms represent a major victory for everyone who has a stake in the workers' compensation system and will help create thousands of new jobs for our families as employers continue to flock to Texas for our excellent business climate."
Perry noted that Texas has had some of the highest workers' compensation costs in the nation. Under the current system, one in four Texans injured in the workplace will never fully return to work because of lack of care; doctors have been dropping out of the system because they can't afford to participate, and employers are paying the third highest rates in the nation.
"Workers all across Texas deserve better than a system that makes half-hearted promises and employers deserve better than having to pour resources into a broken system when those dollars could be used to create new jobs," Perry said. "With the reforms passed in House Bill 7, Texans hurt on the job will get the improved care they deserve at a lower price employers can afford."
House Bill 7 will:
* Reduce bureaucracy and increases efficiency by abolishing the old Workers' Compensation Commission and moving its mission to a new division in the Texas Department of Insurance.
* Increase the cap on weekly benefits for injured workers by as much as 15 percent beginning in 2006 and give injured workers a stronger voice in the process through a new Office of Injured Employee Counsel.
* Provide employers much needed financial relief on insurance costs, which will encourage more employers to opt into the system and free resources to grow and create jobs.
"By replacing government mandates on medical fees with free market principles doctors will have a stronger incentive to participate and injured workers can gain greater access to care," Perry said. "I want to thank Sen. Todd Staples and Reps. Burt Solomons and Helen Giddings for their leadership in guiding this important bill through the legislature and to my desk."