Oklahoma Workers Compensation Reform

This Letter to the Editor was sent to all local Oklahoma newspapers in mid-April 2013.

By Daryl Davis

Local Oklahoma employers are saddled with the costliest Workers Compensation (WC) system in the country, and those costs are passed along to consumers.  Our legislature needs to eliminate this needless drag on our economy.

The losses that we suffer from Oklahoma's broken WC system can be broadly categorized into three areas. First, a recent study shows that—after adjusting for cost-of-living expenses nationwide—Oklahoma pays more for WC than any other state.

Second, only in Oklahoma and Tennessee are employees expected to fight their employers in court to remedy workplace injuries. All other states embrace administrative WC systems designed to minimize conflict between labor and management.

Third, revenue opportunities are lost each year from start-up operations choosing to put their payrolls in Texas, which is the one state in the nation where companies can opt out of the WC system altogether. The leaner and more efficient alternative to WC in Texas frequently provides superior benefits to workers and substantial savings to employers who could just as easily have set up shop in Oklahoma if we took a more enlightened approach to workplace injuries.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman has authored SB 1062, which offers the potential for Oklahoma to catapult its WC system from worst to best in the country. We need to support these efforts in 2013 to finally stop wasting dollars, creating unnecessary conflict between labor and management, and squandering opportunities to attract new businesses to Oklahoma.

 

Daryl Davis recently left AIG to found Net Gain Resources.  An unabridged and fully referenced version of this opinion piece can be found at workerscompensationoptions.com.