The full Senate gave approval to Senate Bill 878 today, a workers compensation bill authored by Sen. Patrick Anderson, , R-Enid, and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore. The bill was crafted in coordination with Governor Mary Fallin’s Workers Compensation Study Group, which includes members of the legislature and business professionals from various backgrounds. The bill was passed by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 44-0.
“We are committed to reducing Oklahoma’s workers compensation rates and making our state more competitive for job creation in every way,” said President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “This bill is progress towards a goal of making Oklahoma more competitive economically with surrounding states.”
“It is encouraging to see both Republicans and Democrats come together and unanimously recognize this to be such an important issue for Oklahoma,” said Senator Anderson. “Injured workers are better served by a system that resolves their case quickly and provides the coverage and care it is designed to give.”
Anderson said that Senate Bill 878 is a comprehensive approach to workers compensation reform. He added that costs go down when workers are treated, rehabilitated and able to return to work.
Bingman said that workers comp reform needs to be able to address the many different cost drivers that have resulted in an unacceptably high rate for Oklahoma payers.
A summary of major provisions in the bill include:
• Swift resolution to cases, requiring the judge to render decision within 60 days
• Mandatory annual reviews of disability recipients
• Creates transparency within the court, requiring reports on the judicial process
• Places more decision making authority in the hands of medical experts
• Encourage early return to work through rehabilitation
The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.