Workers’ Compensation systems were created nearly 100 years ago in a grand compromise-- employers were exempt from any liability for workplace injuries and workers in return were supposed to be provided with medical care and speedy compensation for on-the-job injuries. Workers Compensation is incredibly important. After Medicare and Social Security, it is the largest social insurance program in America today. Tens of thousands of Maine people are saved from poverty by the benefits provided by this system.
LD 1571, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Workers' Compensation, was sponsored by Rep. Andre Cushing and introduced in the first session of the 125th Legislature. The bill was carried over, and a task force chaired by Workers Compensation Board Director Paul Sighinolfi was convened to review the bill. Director Sighinolfi has submitted his report to the LCRED Committee. That report contains proposed legislation. The LCRED Committee killed LD 1571 and is now considering Sighinolfi’s proposed legislation (hereafter referred to as the “Committee bill.”) This fact sheet addresses that proposed legislation. While the Committee bill is not nearly as draconian as LD 1571, it is very harmful to injured workers, particularly those who are most severely injured. The new bill has been referred to as LR 2781/LR2787 interchangeably, and the bill has not yet been printed.
- This bill would cut a worker off from benefits after 618 weeks, even if their on-the-job injury prevents them from working for the rest of their life. It’s unfair to set an arbitrary deadline that cuts an injured worker off from benefits without regard for his or her ability to earn wages. Many workers who reach the 618 week cliff will have nowhere to go, and the costs of their injury will surely be shifted from the employer and insurance company to the public.
- This bill would allow an injured worker to have his benefits halted while an appeal is pending. This will just increase the number of appeals filed, creating more of a legal headache.
- Workers’ Compensation rates have declined 57% in the past decade, and they’ve gone down over 7% in just the past year. This bill is a solution in search of a problem.
- Over the past decade, fewer and fewer benefits paid out by workers’ compensation system have gone to workers and more and more benefits have gone to insurance companies and medical costs. This bill would only make that worse.
- A fair workers’ compensation system prioritizes injured workers, not corporate profits and insurance companies. It’s only fair that workers should have a small safety net that helps them to provide for their families and that pays for medical expenses.
- While we feel some provisions of this legislation would be helpful to workers, taken as a whole, it will harm injured workers. We strongly recommend rejecting this proposal.
You can download a briefing paper drafted by the Bureau of Labor Education on Workers' Compensation systems by clicking here.
You can download a side-by-side comparison of the current law, the proposal, and analysis by clicking here.