On March 1, 2017, Iowa lawmakers introduced two bills, House Study Bill 169 and Senate Study Bill 1170. These bills are aimed at overhauling the state’s workers’ compensation system in a move to reduce costs to employers. In the past, Iowa’s workers’ compensation system was considered one of the best in the country, having low premiums for employers and good benefits for injured workers. However, with these new bills that favor employers, workers’ compensation benefits are now in danger of being scaled back.
What This Means for Workers
In seeking to reduce workers’ compensation premiums for employers, there are no benefits offered to workers in either of the bills. Most at risk are workers who perform manual labor because their options to returning to work or another job after being injured are limited.
The rights of injured workers stand to be reduced if these bills are passed by:
- Ending workers’ compensation benefits when an injured worker reaches 67 years old
- Reducing late fees for employers who do not pay benefits on time
- Allowing employers to deny benefits when an injured worker has tested positive for alcohol or drugs, regardless if they were a factor for causing the injury
- Limiting the amount of legal fees a workers’ compensation attorney can receive
- Targeting high cost injuries, including shoulder injuries
What This Means for Taxpayers
If workers’ compensation benefits are scaled back to injured employees, the unmet costs are anticipated to shift from employers to Iowa taxpayers. This would be in the way of adding burden to already struggling Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security systems.
HB 169 and SB 1170 if passed will likely hurt injured workers and taxpayers in Iowa.
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