Perry Announces Agreement on Workers Compensation Reform Legislation
Gov. Rick Perry, along with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Tom Craddick, Sen. Todd Staples and Rep. Burt Solomons, today announced that an agreement has been reached on a comprehensive workers compensation reform plan that will bring a real and lasting solution to one of Texas' most pressing problems.
"Today we have reached an agreement that will lead to lower workers' compensation costs for employers, control the cost of health care provided for injured workers and ensure injured workers get the care they need so they can get back to work as quickly as possible," Perry said. "I give a lot of the credit to Senator Staples, Representative Solomons and the other eight conferees who have labored through intense negotiations. Their work will pay off in the form of improved benefits and care for those hurt in the workplace, real savings for employers and increased efficiency and fairness for all parties involved in the system."
This compromise plan includes aspects of the two proposals put forth by each chamber and it finds middle ground on sticking points that had prevented the bill from moving forward. Key aspects of the comprehensive plan include:
* The workers' compensation system will be governed by a single, appointed commissioner, housed in the Texas Department of Insurance.
* Injured workers will see the cap on weekly benefits increase by 12 percent, and will have a stronger voice in the process through a new Office of Injured Employee Counsel.
* Employers will get some much needed financial relief on insurance costs allowing more employers to opt into the system and freeing resources to grow and create jobs.
* Government mandates on medical fees will be replaced with free market principles, doctors will have a stronger incentive to participate and injured workers will have greater access to care.
"This agreement represents a major victory for everyone who has a stake in the workers' compensation system," Perry said. "It will give those hurt on the job the care they deserve, at a price employers can afford and just as important, this bill will help create thousands of new jobs for our families as employers continue to flock to Texas for our excellent business climate."
"As the session nears its end, our success on workers' compensation should remind every lawmaker that there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we put aside our differences, work together in a spirit of cooperation and make the goal of building a better Texas our only aim."