A number of objections have been raised over the Florida workers’ compensation bill which is still in the draft stage and is being considered by the state House of Representatives. The bill proposes a number of key changes to the workers’ compensation laws and the primary opposition to these changes have come from both healthcare companies and businesses.
The amendments that are being considered are about the limitations on the attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases. The bill proposes that a judge may award fees of up to $250 per hour to an attorney in a workers’ comp case. A Supreme Court ruling had previously decided that any caps on attorney fees were illegal.
This is being opposed by business groups which believe that higher attorney fees also lead to higher litigation costs which in part are responsible for the increase in compensation insurance rates. It is pertinent to note here that the workers’ compensation insurance has hiked up by 14.5% over the last year or so. It may hike even further, businesses fear, if measures are not taken to curb litigation costs.
These reservations were aired by various interest groups at a workshop organized by the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee on Tuesday.
Another notable proposal in the bill is to create a fee system for the outpatient care offered under workers’ compensation insurance at the healthcare facilities. Healthcare groups present at the workshop argued that this would mean a significant decrease in the payments they receive for such care and treatment. Also represented at the workshop were labor unions which argued for workers’ compensation laws that were friendlier to the workers. The bill is still in draft stages and it remains to be seen what final shape it takes when it is finally passed by the House.
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