Many legislatures have good intentions encompassed in very bad bills. I find typically the representative does not undestand their bill’s full impact until after the fact. A prime example of this may be Oklahoma Representative Lewis H. Moore who is purposing a bill that according to the representative would
make it possible for the Oklahoma State Employees Benefits Council and the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board to begin a pilot program that state agencies and employers can participate in to take advantage of the 24/7 provision in Title 85.
According to Representative Moore
If you are hurt playing softball, you go to the doctor and have the injury taken care of,” Moore said. “Whatever deductible you have for health insurance is what you would pay for the injury, regardless of whether it was job-related or not. Supplemental coverage would meet many of the expenses incurred using a benefit bank employers can put into place using their savings. The exclusive remedy provision, for liability protection, covers 24/7 coverage as well.
I admit I have not had time to look at the bill. However, the last sentence bolded above causes great concern. It appears the bill would essentially place any injury incurred, whether work related or not, in the exclusive realm of the workers compensation system if any "health insurance" pays for any bills. I can’t fully wrap my mind around it yet, but it appears from the language of the press release that this could essentially preclude individuals from filing lawsuits against third parties (ie. Trucking Company who rear ends an individual) if the hurt individual allows this quasi “health insurance” to cover any of the medical bills.
For those of you who are unaware, workers compensation provides an exclusive remedy for employees who are hurt on the job with legislature mandated amounts awarded for a certain type of injury. Typically, the compensation given to these injured workers are only worth a fraction of what a jury would award them. In other words and employee cannot sue an employer for negligence in our civil courts if he or she is hurt on the job. What is troubling is that if your health insurance pays for any injury related hospital bills they are entitled to recoup what they have paid through subrogation from the party who caused the injury.
I look forward to more information about this bill. I like giving people the benefit of the doubt but from the press release it appears this bill may be a backdoor attempt to benefit insurers such as State Farm, Allstate and Farmers and create a form of immunity for tortfeasors (those who are negligent toward another). This has not been unusual for Oklahoma’s Republican leadership over the past few years. I hope these leaders can get beyond propping up special interests and focus on real problems facing Oklahoma such as the current budget crisis.