Florida’s workers’ compensation laws are expected to be on the agenda at some point during the state legislature’s new term. The state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has indicated that it will seek several key changes.
At a recent conference, Assistant Director Andrew Sabolic discussed some “reforms” for which the DWC is advocating. Like most workers’ comp issues in this state, the proposed changes are expected to elicit strong opinions for various factions.
Changes for first-time offenders
One change the DWC wants to see is a way for employers who violate Florida workers’ comp laws for the first time to minimize their penalties by 15% if they successfully complete an online tutorial. That would mean getting at least 80% of the answers on the tutorial’s questions correct.
No legislative ratification for MRAs
Under another proposed change, the state legislature would no longer have to approve the setting of or changes to the maximum reimbursement allowance (MRA) for physicians, medical facilities other providers who treat injured and sick patients who are receiving workers’ comp for particular conditions. Currently, MRAs are determined or changed by a panel of three, adopted in a rule by the Department of Financial Services, which oversees the DWC and then ratified by the state’s lawmakers. The proposed change would eliminate that last step.
Will the proposed changes make it through the legislature?
Currently, it’s not clear whether these proposals are anything more than a wish list. The DWC would need to find sponsors for any legislation in both houses. Then, those with interests on both sides would weigh in, including Florida residents who would be impacted by the changes. Many people, for example, would likely not want to even see businesses that are first-time offenders get away with paying less in penalties for running afoul of workers’ comp laws designed to protect employees simply by taking an online “class.”
Most Floridians don’t follow the day-to-day machinations of the state legislature. However, it is crucial to know what your legal rights are when it involves having a safe workplace and getting workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a work-related injury or illness.