The issue of workers compensation for injured energy workers is an important one for Oklahoma firms. This week, the State Senate gave final approval to legislation to preserve and strengthen landmark workers’ compensation reforms adopted six years ago.
House Bill 2367 passed unanimously and awaits a decision by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Senator Julie Daniels, Senate Judiciary Committee chair, is the Senate author of the bill and said HB 2367 clarifies and secures the reforms while addressing a number of issues that have arisen since passage of the original bill.
“Since 2013, reforms have been effective in helping injured workers receive timely treatment and get back to work. Oklahoma employers have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. Premiums are lower, fewer cases are filed and employee claims are resolved in less time with fewer appeals. Without compromising reforms all stakeholders negotiated over several months to resolve some pressing issues,” said Daniels, R-Bartlesville.
Among the highlights of HB 2367:
- Increases the total temporary disability (TTD) cap to 70 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum of the state’s average weekly wage;
- Increases the maximum permanent partial disability (PPD) rate to $350/week for two years; an increase to $360/week in 2021 and an extension of the maximum number of weeks to 360;
- Adopts use of the Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association guidelines;
- Brings the Workers’ Compensation Commission in line with several Oklahoma Supreme Court decisions;
- Restructures the Multiple Injury Trust Fund (MITF) to increase the fund’s solvency.
- The Fiscal Year 2020 budget deal includes a $5 million appropriation to the MITF as part of the solution.
- Includes a reduction in the Court of Existing Claims to one judge from 2020 to 2022 to address remaining cases;
- Calls for the Workers’ Compensation Commission to conduct a study regarding a possible increase in the medical fee schedule and to report to the Legislature in 2020;
- Calls for the current procedural terminology (CPT) codes to be updated every two years.
“Republicans fought long and hard to transform the workers’ comp system from an adversarial system to an administrative system that’s fair to all parties while still controlling costs for employers. Workers’ comp reform has been an undeniable success for Oklahoma and this legislation will preserve and strengthen our successful reforms. I want to congratulate Senator Julie Daniels for a fantastic job in championing workers’ comp reform,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.