Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; March 12, 2013:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The House Consumer and Human Resources passed HB194, the workers compensation reform package, on a 7-3 party-line vote. During the hearing, House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner criticized the supporters of this legislation for “fixing” the workers compensation system on the backs of injured workers in our state.
“This so-called “reform” is nothing more than an outright assault on the safety and financial security of working families in our state,” said Chairman Turner. “We are not fixing a broken system; we are breaking a system that works for the people of Tennessee.”
Studies show that under our current system, 77% of the costs of workers compensation goes to doctors and medical facilities; however, the plan only addresses the 23% that is left to workers by reducing payouts and making it harder for employees to initiate compensation claims. Additionally, the bill removes the appeals process from the jurisdiction of local courts and into an appointed board.
“’When are we going to do something for the working people in this state?’” asked Chairman Turner at during the hearing. Calling out the special interests who are pushing this bill, Chairman Turner said they have “no regard for the people of Tennessee” and are becoming “poverty pimps” by pushing a legislative package that does nothing but hurt the working men and women of our state.
In addition to workers advocates, representatives of firefighters also opposed this legislation on the grounds that it could allow for firefighters to be denied legitimate resulting from injuries suffered while protecting lives.
The legislation also passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and will be heard in both the House and Senate Government Operations Committees next week.