Autonomy of workers comp

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Posted by IWA Advocate on January 23, 1999 at 21:31:42:

A considerate person sent the following to us via e-mail and I knew our readers would be interested in it.

This is from an Associated Press story by Anick Jesdanun

Washington-- Those insurers who pay workers state-required compensation for injuries suffered at work are no more an arm of the government than other private insurance companies are, a lawyer for the providers told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The determination is key to whether insurers could be sued for violating employee's due-process rights under the Constitution. A judge had dismissed claims filed by employees who found their benefits cut off in Pennsylvania pending a review.

Several other states, including California, also authorize the withhold of disputed payments while a review is pending, and a ruling in the employee's favor could raise questions about the integrity of those state laws. Insurers argued that such
dispute-resolution mechanisms are legal.

Edward Woodward, president of the California Workerss Compensation Institute in Oakland, said Tuesday that California insurers are concerned about the potential impact of the Pennsylvania case and are following it closely.

"Private companies reqularly withhold payments during disputes,' said Michael McConnell, an attorney for several workers comp insurers.

Loralyn McKinley, representing 10 employees, onsidered workers compensation a state benefit because state law
mandated coverage and created a complex regulatory scheme governing payments and dispute resolution.

"The individual is trapped in the system and is not permitted to go outside the system," she said.

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