AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has one of the worst workers’ compensation insurance programs in the nation, whether one looks at it from the perspective of the injured worker or the cash-strapped employer. Despite decades of effort, the Texas Workers’ Compensation System is ineffective and inefficient.
A new study by Chris Patterson, director of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and John Colyandro, executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, recommends that lawmakers commit to a ground-up revamping of the system.
The authors report that groups ranging from the AFL-CIO to the Texas Association of Business have found the system ineffective and in need of major reform.
“The state system fails because it installs government as the intermediary between employer, employee, health provider, and insurer,” the authors note in their conclusion. “It eliminates economic, medical, and social incentives for the system to serve the best interests of injured employees and responsible employers. The consequences are unjustifiably high utilization, uncontrolled costs, and poor medical care outcomes.
Titled “Workers’ Compensation: Making It Work for Texans,” the report is available online at www.TexasPolicy.com.
Patterson and Colyandro offer twelve specific reforms to improve the Texas Workers’ Compensation System. The recommendations range from eliminating the six-member Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission, to a requirement that employees notify employers of workplace injuries within seven days of the accident.
They note that a restructured system should be operated under the Texas Department of Insurance. The authors conclude that the workplace environment has changed significantly, and so should the compensation system.
“Today, many of the original reasons for creating the Texas Workers’ Compensation System no longer exist… A state system for establishing standards, monitoring workplaces, and enforcing compliance is now duplicative and unnecessary. Economic incentives, more than government regulations, drive improvements in workplace safety. Companies that violate OSHA standards face punishing costs, and worker safety is a high priority for employers because today’s workforce is highly mobile and profit margins rely heavily on productivity.”