It’s time to fix the broken workers’ compensation system in Connecticut
Workers hurt on the job in Connecticut can look forward to months or years of fighting with insurance companies whose goal often seems to starve the injured worker into settling their claim even before they are physically able to work again.
Insurance companies are afforded the ability to deny claims as a procedural process without reviewing facts and before an actual claim is filed in violation of the 14th Amendment affording due process. “Form 43” prohibits workers from getting the care they need, denying medical visits, prescriptions, special equipment like crutches and wheelchairs and money to live on.
Many injured workers find themselves applying for public assistance such as Medicaid to survive, causing the taxpayers in Connecticut to incur expenses that should have been paid by insurance companies.
The current system places workers in serious debt or even bankruptcy.
When President Theodore Roosevelt conceived workers’ compensation, he envisioned it as a system to protect the worker, not as one to help enrich the employer or insurance companies. Workers’ compensation in Connecticut does not serve the worker as President Roosevelt envisioned, and it needs to be fixed, not bragged about!
On June 21, 2019, Gov. Ned Lamont signed “An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study Remedies and Potential Liability for Unreasonably Contested or Delayed Worker’s Compensation Claims.”
Task Force Co-Sponsors were Reps. Susan Johnson, Jeff Currey, Michael Winkler, Tom Arnone, and Matt Blumenthal. The legislation is designed to (1) identify the extent of unreasonably contested or delayed workers’ compensation claims, (2) study methods to expand remedies regarding potential liability for unreasonably contested or delayed workers’ compensation claims, and (3) clarify the law regarding bad faith handling of workers’ compensation claims.
A 2020 legislative report outlines some initiatives along with some puzzling decisions like “prescription medications, ultimately, that proposal was not pursued.”
It will be two years in June since Lamont signed off on the Task Force with no real change. Blaming COVID-19 is an excuse not a reason. Taxpayers along with our workforce deserve better.
Reviewing over 500 current cases through Connecticut’s workers compensation portal, every case had a “Form 43” filed regardless of facts delaying needed benefits.
I sent a letter via email requesting Task Force information to Paul Mounds, Chief of Staff for Governor Lamont; Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Josh Geballe, COO; and Daniel Palladino, Task Force Manager whom I even left several voice messages. I have received no response to date.
I also forwarded that email to Rep. Susan Johnson, copying Jeff Currey, Michael Winkler, Tom Arnone, and Matt Blumenthal. I only got a response from Winkler, as follows:
“From personal experience as a union president. The private sector administrator of Workers’ Compensation was required to rule on the disability aspect of a claim within thirty days. The administrator appeared unwilling to hire enough doctors to do this. So to meet the requirement, they denied nearly everyone, thereby making a decision as required. After the person appealed as the first time, they thoroughly reviewed the medical information. It’s a terrible system, but no one is willing to pay for a better one. And historically, the Attorney General’s Office is not enthusiastic about contract enforcement cases. So insurance companies can misbehave and suffer no consequences. Only an individual’s persistence can obtain the correct result in some cases. Some people give up, which saves the system money. To reform the system would require a massive effort against opposition from an incredibly powerful combination of insurance and industry lobbyists.”
“Taxpayer money should not be footing the bill for Insurance companies because Government can’t adequately work out a program to help the worker.”
It’s just a matter of time before someone realizes there are 14th Amendment violations. Connecticut can fix the system or look to raise taxes covering lawsuits.
The 14th Amendment: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Michael Tedesco is Chief Branding Officer/Principal at FIBRANDING in Trumbull.
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