NC Chamber’s Position: The North Carolina Chamber supports reforming North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system to return it to its original intent: meet the health care needs of injured workers, provide those workers with reasonable compensation for lost wages while injured and return them back to work as soon as possible.
Numerous states across the country have reformed their workers’ compensation systems, benefiting both employers and employees by making their systems more efficient, sustainable and less susceptible to exploitation. NC joined those states in 2011/2012 by passing comprehensive workers' comp reform.
2012 Legislative Efforts:
OR NO BIZ
Protect and Put NC Back to Work (H709)
Led effort to modernize NC’s workers’ compensation laws to ensure greater certainty for businesses while providing for injured workers’ medical needs, getting employees back to work as soon as possible and ensuring that those permanently disabled receive needed benefits. This reform helps create a more competitive business climate in NC.
Promoted Fairness by Amending Workers’ Comp Rules (H237)
Promoted fairness in the workplace by passing legislation that ensures NC employers have adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
NC Chamber Efforts Gain Respect and Recognition
The North Carolina Chamber’s advocacy efforts are gaining recognition from groups on all sides of the issues, including some of our staunchest critics. “The N.C. Chamber fought hard and won major concessions," said Gina Cammarano of the N.C. Advocates for Justice, a trial lawyers' group told The News & Observer. “And yet the common ground preserved in the consensus bill allows North Carolinians to retain a fair workers' compensation system.”
“We’ll continue to be an outspoken and proactive voice for the business community,” said Chamber President and CEO Lew Ebert. “Our efforts are not going unnoticed and they are getting results at the legislature.”
H709/S544 restores balance to NC’s workers’ comp system by:
· Improving the Structure, Operation and Accountability of the Industrial Commission
o Reduce from seven to six commissioners and require legislative confirmation
o Require commissioners to follow the “judicial code of conduct”
o Bring the Industrial Commission under the Administrative Procedures Act like other state agencies
· Bringing back medical treatment to original statutory intent where the employer directs medical care
o Provide equal access to medical information for both sides
o Clearly define in statute what information a doctor may release and to whom
o Improve the rehabilitation process of the injured worker through better communication so they can return to work
· Making Common Sense Requirements for Claims and Benefits (These changes only affect future claims)
o Disqualification of benefits if an employee knowingly and willfully makes misrepresentations on physical condition when applying for a job
o Define the term “suitable employment” to provide clarity following court decisions that have made it more difficult to get employees back to work when they are able
o Set a cap of 500 weeks (ten years) on Temporary Total Disability (TTD) bringing us in line with surrounding states
o Increase Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) from 300 to 500 weeks bringing us to the highest level of surrounding states
o Increases the death benefit from 400 weeks to 500 weeks
o Increases burial expenses from $3,500 to $10,000
Current Temp. Total Dis. (TTD)
Current Temp. Part. Dis. (TPD)
Maximum # of Weeks
Maximum # of Weeks
No Max on TTD
Workers' Compensation in North Carolina
Recent statistics from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) show how North Carolina is out of step with competing states in terms of the cost of our system:
- North Carolina employers are doing a good job making their workplaces safer. Claim frequency has been cut by almost half since the mid 1990s. But despite this, costs are going up.
- North Carolina’s cost per claim has nearly tripled since 1996.
- North Carolina’s cost per claim is 44% higher than the median of states studied by WCRI.
- North Carolina’s indemnity (non-medical) costs per claim, the largest component of total costs per claim, are 64% higher than the median of states studied by WCRI.