Workers’ Compensation Legislation Introduced
January 31, 2017
(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Governor Bill Walker introduced legislation last weekthat would streamline Alaska’s workers’ compensation program while protecting workers’ rights. The improvements outlined in Governor Walker’s legislation address rising costs, recent legal developments, and new approaches to increase efficiency and fairness of workers’ compensation in Alaska, which has not seen significant changes in over 10 years.
“The goal of our workers’ compensation system is to help Alaskans who were injured on the job get healthy and back to work as soon as possible,” said Governor Walker. “In recent months, my office has received valuable input from multiple stakeholder groups on ways to improve workers’ compensation in Alaska. The changes I have put forward will address the challenges facing both employers and employees, and the need for improving our current system.”
Changes outlined in Governor Walker’s legislation include:
- Speeding up dispute resolution before the Workers’ Compensation Board, and providing closure for both injured workers and their employers;
- Ensuring prompt delivery of medical care to injured workers by providing a reasonable timeframe for an employer to authorize or deny medical treatment upon a medical provider’s written request;
- Strengthening provisions to prevent workers’ compensation fraud by employers and employees;
- Changing the calculation and maximum civil penalty for failure to insure for workers’ compensation liability;
- Reducing administrative costs by allowing employers to pay benefits electronically, and allowing the Division of Workers’ Compensation to mandate electronic filing of certain reports from employers and insurers; and
- Directing a greater portion of annual service fees paid by insurers to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to administer workers’ compensation and safety programs.
“This bill would streamline an essential government program while protecting the rights of working Alaskans,” said Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “Our department is committed to working with lawmakers to make these necessary improvements to the state’s workers’ compensation system.”
Reporting & Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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