Lane: Workers' Compensation Reform is Pennywise and Pound Foolish

House Bill 5002 attacks one of Michigan's competitive job assets
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LANSING - State Representative Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser) strongly opposed House Bill 5002, legislation that radically changes Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Law. “Our workers deserve more,” Lane stated. “Coming from my construction business background, we pride ourselves in guaranteeing a safe workplace while practicing procedures that ensure high standards of care for all employees.”

HB 5002 will make the following changes to workers’ compensation:

  • Add a requirement that includes consideration of all jobs that could be performed using the employee’s ”transferable skills.” This has the potential to require a vocational expert’s evaluation in every wage loss case.
  • Expand the definition of ”wage earning capacity” to include not only the employee’s past wage earning history, but adds virtual wages that could be earned at some other job or occupation.
  • Allow the employer to deduct the employee’s theoretical residual wage earning capacity from the wage loss rate established on the date of injury with the employer. This would likely drastically reduce the wage loss paid to a partially disabled employee.
  • Allow the employer to choose the injured employee’s health care provider for the first 45 days of care as opposed to the current ten.
  • Forces older workers into early retirement, regardless of whether they are prepared to retire or not, simply because they reached retirement age.

“A Macomb County business last week had the distinct honor of being awarded one of the three CET Platinum Safety Awards from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA),” Lane stated. “Businesses like these are shining examples of a commitment to the safety of their workers by reducing costs to workers’ compensation claims through safety standards rather than cuts to critical workers’ benefits.”