No Stone Tablets in Workers’ Compensation

A day rarely goes by when emails, social media, blogs, and news articles don’t discuss workers’ compensation – what’s wrong with it, or what can “fix” some part of it. But there is no universal agreement on what “it” should be.

Equally troubling, no consistent platform has existed from which the workers’ compensation community can have a dialogue about issues the industry faces. The purpose of this blog is to encourage that discussion from a broader range of participants. This includes you. Your feedback and participation will largely determine which direction the blog goes, and what it discusses.

In 1972, the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation issued a report that contained recommendations rather than edicts. Its charge was to “undertake a comprehensive study and evaluation of State workmen’s compensation laws in order to determine if such laws provide an adequate, prompt, and equitable system of compensation.” The resulting report was largely critical of states’ workers’ compensation programs, but the commission didn’t have the authority to declare what workers’ compensation had to be.

We could assume that the commission’s recommendations constituted what workers’ compensation should be, but the ideas were not voted on by Congress, nor were they incorporated as amendments to the Constitution. While many states made changes based on the commission’s recommendations, no state adopted all the recommendations in the commission’s report.

Fifty years have now passed since that groundbreaking study was published, and we’re still discussing and debating the scope of workers’ compensation in both Congress and within state legislatures. The passage of fifty years makes this year an appropriate time to have an extended exchange of ideas about what the ideal system includes. This exchange may influence regulators, academics, legislators, insurers, employers, and employees when opportunities present themselves to make changes.

A useful place to start is this blog. You may view it as “a virtual town hall,” where differing points of view are welcomed and considered, and only civil discourse is allowed. The goal of these discussions is to create consensus for changes that can build a better future for worker’s compensation in the United States.

The first step of such a conversation is deciding where to start. We’ve developed a brief questionnaire with four possible topics for the discussion. Your input is both requested and greatly appreciated. Click the link below to answer questions about topics to discuss.

Please take the survey here.

We look forward to a free-flowing, constructive dialogue. Just because there have been discussions about what’s the “right” workers’ compensation system for fifty years without clear answers, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The answer could start with a simple blog.

And it can start with you.