Governor Brad Henry urges regulators to block workers compensation increase

Thursday, September 2nd 2004, 5:46 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry urged state regulators Wednesday to block a proposed 11.5 percent increase in workers compensation insurance rates, citing a study that says no rate hike is needed.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance is seeking an increase in its ``loss cost'' rates, the direct cost of settling workers' compensation claims like medical bills and salary reimbursements. The costs are about 70 percent of what a covered company pays.

But an actuarial report prepared for Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the insurance industry's request is ``excessive'' and recommended that there be no increase in rates. Edmondson represents businesses and other consumers on workers comp rate cases.

``I'm urging state regulators to listen to the attorney general and hold the line on comp rates so Oklahoma businesses don't get stuck with an unnecessary rate hike,'' Henry said.

The actuarial report says an 11.5 percent rate hike would result in a premium increase of $30.2 million to Oklahoma businesses.

It also says there is ``substantial evidence'' to justify a decrease in workers comp rates.

``Business owners should not have to pay a penny more than is absolutely necessary,'' the Democratic governor said.

Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, who has called for workers compensation reform, said rejecting the rate hike is a short-term solution that does not address the real problems plaguing Oklahoma's workers comp system.