The Workers’ Compensation Act in the State of Washington is a creature of legislation. Therefore, it is constantly under attack in Olympia by Big Business in hopes of reducing injured workers’ benefits.
It is imperative that voters in the State of Washington stay on top of what is taking place in Olympia and stay in contact with their legislators. Every year Big Business offers numerous bills in hopes of reducing benefits. These reductions are not just for future claims but also for ongoing pensions.
Most recently during this special session, Big Business held the budget captive while they sought reduction in workers’ compensation benefits. A second special session is now ongoing because Big Business refused to negotiate on the budget in hopes of getting further reduction in workers’ compensation benefits. Every year Big Business attempts to undermine the workers’ compensation system. It is important that voters stay on top of what is taking place in Olympia and stay in contact with their representatives. You need to urge your representatives to understand that the lifeline that is workers’ compensation cannot be cut to the point where injured workers cannot have a decent existence.
As an attorney who has represented injured workers for over 30 years, been active in the legislative process and has seen what Big Business is trying to do, I cannot stress to you enough the severe cuts Big Business is seeking. The incredible changes that they are seeking dramatically affect injured workers and their families. This will never go away and if voters do not stay in contact with their representatives and stress how important workers’ compensation is to injured workers, Big Business will steamroll through Olympia and the changes will be frightening. Workers’ compensation is a system constantly under siege.
Most recently, Big Business was successful in getting RCW 51.36.010 passed which set up Medical Providers Networks. The creation of these networks makes it mandatory for physicians to join and injured workers can only treat with providers who chose to be members. This is a dramatic change and intrudes on the right of injured workers in picking their attending physician.
The workers’ compensation attorneys in the State of Washington mainly through WSAJ (Washington State Association for Justice) fight a continuous battle in Olympia. Your help by staying in contact with your representatives makes it possible for WSAJ to fight back against the onslaught of Big Business.
One note of good news is the election of Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee in the past was a member of WSAJ, understands the plight of injured workers and will not be easily steamrolled by Big Business. But, he has to get a budget passed and if Big Business is successful in passing a budget out of the House and Senate that cuts workers’ compensation benefits, Governor Inslee will have to take a long hard look at that budget. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you stay in contact with your legislators and make sure that they understand you are watching what actions and votes take place during what is now a second special session.
Find out who your legislators are by clicking on this link: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/. Make the call today. Tell your legislators to say no to Big Business and keep our workers’ compensation system strong.
Tom Thompson is a partner at The Walthew Law Firm and practices workers’ compensation and personal injury law.