New Coke 2.0 - Not So New Or Improved
Ann S. Jacobs, President
Wisconsin Association for Justice
For 104 years Wisconsin has served as a national role model in how to treat workers. We were the first in the nation to provide a comprehensive worker’s compensation system for workers who were injured or got sick on the job and helped them get back to work.
Now, we’re going to take Worker’s Compensation (WC), an exceptional government program that has virtually no out-of-pocket cost to taxpayers, tear it apart and start over in the name of “efficiency?”
Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson and Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel went public last week to defend the idea. However, the facts show Wisconsin’s WC system is the gold standard for the rest of the nation.
- Wisconsin’s WC program excels in virtually every measurement – quick access to medical treatment, fantastic return-to work rates, stable premiums, and more than 300 insurance companies writing policies and creating jobs here in Wisconsin. The WC system works well because it is an efficient and effective one-stop-shop with experienced staff and judges.
- The budget proposal want to break apart one of government’s most efficient programs and spread the work across three different agencies (Department of Administration, Department of Workforce Development, and Office of the Commissioner of Insurance). You’re trading efficiency for the risk of increased confusion and less oversight. It runs the risk of disrupting current claims, and putting more than a century of experience at risk while the government says, “trust me, it’ll work.”
- Wisconsin’s WC program has less litigation. It is so good that some 80% of the workers successfully navigate the program without a lawyer. (Around 20% of our cases end up in litigation. In Illinois, for example, the number is 80%) Fracturing a perfectly operating one-stop-shop across three other government agencies means an increased chance of inconsistent rulings which will bring more lawyers, longer delays, and higher costs.
Don’t fast track this major change. Give it the consideration it deserves. If there is truly a reasonable basis for these changes, those ideas should be discussed with all the stakeholders in the system (workers, employers, insurance carriers, and the medical community) and submitted to the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, a main stabilizing force in the historic success of the WC system
There was a time when New Coke was the next great idea and we all know how that worked out. Repurposing a historical program like Worker’s Compensation, with its history of success for everyone involved, could have disastrous unintended consequences for the employers and workers of Wisconsin.
The Power Of Justice
CNN's Michael Smerconish recently aired a compelling commentary on the civil justice system.
Using the GM case as a springboard, Smerconish showed how the Melton family - who lost their daughter in a crash - turned to the courts to find justice both for their family and their daughter.
Smerconish referred to the civil justice system as a check on free enterprise especially when profits take a back seat to safety.
As he so aptly put it...it's all about accountability.
Take Justice Back
Curious about the civil justice system and why it should matter to you? The American Association for Justice has a new website which will show you why the system is important and how all of us are losing rights to corporate attacks every day.
Check the following features:
Understanding Auto Insurance - Ask the Right Questions Before You Buy
Understanding Auto Insurance is a handy guide to help Wisconsin drivers protect themselves with the right insurance coverage.
The brochure will help you understand the coverage you are required to carry in Wisconsin as well as evaluating the benefits of optional coverage. It also has consumer tips on the best questions to ask your insurance agent whether you are renewing coverage or shopping for a new policy.
Be sure to read the section on, "phantom motor vehicles," which are drivers who report fake accidents with insured drivers as part of a scam to commit insurance fraud.
If you prefer, you can also check out Understanding Auto Insurance online by clicking here.
Wisconsin Association for Justice is a Proud Supporter of the Public News Service
Since 2005, the Wisconsin Association for Justice, through the Wisconsin Civil Justice Education Foundation, has been a proud sponsor of the Wisconsin Public News Service (PNS).
Unlike most news outlets, PNS covers stories that are truly in the public interest. Recent stories include reports on the often unknown dangers of generic drugs, and how trial lawyers found the evidence that led to a massive recalls of GM automobiles.
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