State Senate approves workers comp reform bill

Thursday, March 17th 2005, 6:03 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma Senate passes a workers' compensation reform plan that focuses on controlling medical costs -- but barely.

The measure based on recommendations of a bipartisan task force appointed last year by Democratic Governor Brad Henry was approved 25-to-21 Wednesday. It takes 25 votes to pass a bill in the 48-member Senate.

Republicans criticized the 100-page measure, saying it does little to restrict legal costs.

The Oklahoma House has already passed Republican House Speaker Todd Hiett's rival bill, but will get a look at Henry's measure.

A joint House-Senate conference committee should hammer out a final form of the bill.

Henry's bill would reduce the medical fee schedule for surgeries related to on-the-job injuries to 175 percent of the federal reimbursement rate for Medicare and 130 percent of the Medicare rate for other procedures.

Oklahoma City state Senator Glenn Coffee says Republicans voted against the bill because they say it sides with lawyers at the expense of medical doctors, injured workers and employers.