Having represented 100’s of injured workers over the years, this years debate over workers’ compensation in the North Carolina Legislature is painful. The number one thing to remember our injured workers is that they were by definition, workers. Although they are being portrayed in the media and by Chamber of Commerce groups as slackers who are out for a handout, I cannot remember a single client that would have traded their good paying job for an injury and only 66% of their pay. Add to that burden that these injured workers were on the job, doing what they were paid to do when something happened causing them to become injured, and now they are thrown into a system where they are told, that regardless of their pain level, you must be here or there to see a doctor of the employers choosing as often as the employer wants you to go and must then constantly have to worry whether your pay will be on time or just within the 15 day “window” for paying late each week allowed in the system and you have a no brainer — don’t get hurt here in North Carolina. Allowing the insurance companies who handle workers’ compensation, whose adjusters are mostly overworked, underpaid and have a huge burnout and turn over level, to determine which physicians you can see with no recourse (what is currently being proposed) is almost as bad as allowing the inmates to run the prison… it may be easier, but it will be painful to someone. The group who will be hurt by allowing the insurance companies to determine, contact directly and then and only then authorize treatment will be the workers of North Carolina – all in the name of attracting business. Lets face it, if being allowed to ignore injured workers, or truly torture them (what the true result will be of this proposed legislation) is the cost of bringing in additional business, perhaps we should reevaluate our priorities. Honestly, North Carolina has been consistently ranked as one of the top 5 states for emerging business and the proposed changes will NOT increase that ranking, will NOT reduce insurance premiums for North Carolina businesses, but will only HELP OUT OF STATE INSURANCE COMPANIES. Why then are our legislators fighting so hard for these out of state insurance companies? Money, pure and simple is the root cause of this legislation. The newly elected legislators took huge campaign contributions from out of state insurance companies and now owe them political capital. Unfortunately this capital should not be the lives of our injured workers. We have statutes in place that protect this contact. Don’t let our legislators throw away citizens rights for political capital.
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