Bill Overhauling Oklahoma's Workers' Comp System Moves Forward - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Bill Overhauling Oklahoma's Workers' Comp System Sent To Governor

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a sweeping overhaul of the state workers' compensation system.

According to a news release from the House, Senate Bill 878 rewrites most of the state's workers' compensation law and establishes several new guidelines for treating injured workers that will ensure the workers receive proper care and can return to work in a timely manner.

The bill also sets up new protocols and guidelines to ensure fair costs are paid for treating on-the-job injuries, according to the release.

Supporters say it will help create a favorable business climate in Oklahoma that will help grow the state's economy and improve quality of life.

The House approved SB 878 by a vote of 88-8.  It now goes to Governor Mary Fallin for her signature.

According to the news release, for the first time in state history doctors who treat patients through the workers' compensation system will be required to follow nationally-recognized treatment standards.

SB 878 also:

• Establishes reimbursement rates for medical providers who treat injured workers
• Develops a new fee schedule intended to reduce the cost of workers' compensation medical care by 5 percent
• Returns the Workers' Compensation Court to ten members
• Lessens the involvement of private attorneys in the process
• Clarifies eligibility for workers' compensation treatment
• Requires voluntary mediation to be made available to all claimants
• Requires that only medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine be allowed to serve as independent medical examiners in workers' compensation claims
• Requires independent medical examiners be specialists in the injuries they are diagnosing
• Prevents doctor-shopping by limiting when injured workers can change doctors

The bill was written by Representative Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Tulsa, and Senator Anthony Sykes, a Moore Republican.

 "On the job injuries are life-changing experiences. If an Oklahoman is injured on the job, they deserve access to quality health care that is administered fairly for all involved. We are confident we have finally enabled that with this bill," Sullivan said. "There is no doubt the existing workers' compensation code in Oklahoma has been a job killer. The cost of our system compared to the states' surrounding us has hurt Oklahoma's efforts to attract businesses. Thankfully, that ends now with the passage of this bill."

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