The House has already passed HB 1586 to cap workers compensation benefits at 450 weeks.
The bill is sponsored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. It’s a moneymaker for business. They already enjoy some of the lowest workers comp rates in the country, but capping benefits would be a further windfall by shifting any continuing financial help to permanently disabled workers to the federal government.
The bill awaits action in the Senate.
Eddie Walker Jr., a Fort Smith lawyer, former president of the Arkansas Bar Association, and former workers comp administrative law judge, has written a comprehensive letter that details the shortcomings of the bill and endeavors to correct the business lobby’s talking points. Among them is the lobby’s claim that a disability fund for death and total disability is closing and requires the change,. Walker says that closing won’t happen for a year, while benefits of reduced costs to companies would begin immediately. He says, too, that he can’t think of a case in which a permanently disabled worker would be better off drawing Social Security disability than benefits from the workers comp fund. (CORRECTION: The original item incorrectly identified Walker as current president of the Bar Association.)
He thinks the bill is motivated by “corporate greed and misinformation.” It wouldn’t be the first time. It’s complicated, but his letter is worth reading.
Next stop for this bill is the Senate Public Health committee. Read what Walker has to say and if you agree, here are some senators to call.
Chair Senator Senator Cecile Bledsoe
Vice-Chair Senator Eddie Cheatham
Senator John Cooper
Senator Lance Eads
Senator Scott Flippo
Senator Stephanie Flowers
Senator Missy Irvin
Senator David J. Sanders