Florida Chamber Calls on Florida Senate to Help Fix Pending Workers’ Comp Crisis

By: Edie Ousley

The Florida Chamber of Commerce today testified for a legislative fix to Florida’s workers’ compensation crisis during today’s Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee meeting.

“A $1.5 billion tab that is not about employee safety or protecting workers, but about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers is harmful to Florida’s competitiveness,” said CAROLYN JOHNSON, Director of Business, Economic Development & Innovation Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force believes that a legislative solution should include tying attorney fees to the amount of benefits secured for the injured worker.”

Florida’s employers are now having to foot a $1.5 billion workers’ comp bill as the result of two overreaching Florida Supreme Court decisions earlier this year declaring portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional.

“We support legislative efforts to normalize rates… to prevent future spikes so our businesses can plan for their future,” said TODD THOMSON, Vice President of Public Affairs, Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce during his testimony.

According to research from a Florida Chamber Workers’ Compensation Task Force survey, of the businesses impacted by the rate increase, 90 percent said the impact is significant. An overwhelming 96 percent of those surveyed believe that the Florida Legislature should take action to remedy the Supreme Court decisions that resulted in a 14.5 percent increase.

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, a Leon Circuit Court judge voided the 14.5 percent rate increase under the grounds that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) did not follow the requirements of the “Sunshine Law.” This decision has since been appealed, meaning the rate increase took effect on December 1, as planned. Yesterday evening, the First District Court of Appeals ruled that the 14.5 percent rate increase, which equates to $1.5 billion, will continue to be in effect while the OIR and NCCI appeal a case from the Leon Circuit Court last month.

“Many businesses are telling us that a $1.5 billion increase means they will be forced to raise prices, reduce benefits, delay hiring, or even cut existing jobs, in order to cover this increase in their premiums,” said JOHNSON. “The Florida Chamber has led the charge to lower rates more than 60 percent in the last 13 years and has helped injured workers return to work 10 days faster- we will not be distracted by trial lawyer tactics and will continue to advocate for a legislative remedy to this issue.”

 

Did You Know the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force is Working on a Solution to the $1.5 Billion Increase?

Learn more about the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force and its work on a legislative solution to the $1.5 billion increase to Florida’s business community.