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LIBERTY MUTUAL REACTS TO THE IMPACT OF PRESIDENT CLINTON'S HEALTH CARE REFORM PLAN ON WORKER'S COMPENSATION

 BOSTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Edmund F. Kelly, president and chief operating officer of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company:
 The President outlined in very broad terms his vision of health care reform. While there was no mention of workers compensation, we understand from very recent reports that the proposal calls for the continued financing of occupational medical benefits through the existing workers compensation system.
 In doing so, the president's proposal preserves aspects of workers compensation that work well. At the same time, it offers the potential for strengthening other areas through the advantages of managed care and the reduction of cost shifting.
 However, a practical concern of ours is whether or not workers compensation providers will be permitted to effectively interact with health plans to achieve early return to productive work.
 Additionally, we are concerned that the Administration's long-term plans may be to fully merge the financing of occupational medical benefits into the larger health care system. In our view, merger would be a disaster. It would destroy the incentives for workplace safety and early return to work. The net result would be an increase in medical costs, not a decrease.
 Under the present workers compensation system, employers pay premiums based on their own safety record. This system fairly allocates the cost of occupational injury and illness to the industries and employers where they occur. Thus, an employer who has invested in safety will pay less than an employer in the same industry who has not. By merging workers compensation medical with general health care, individual safety experience would be disregarded and employers who run safe workplaces would subsidize those who don't. This will reduce the financial incentive to maintain safe workplaces.
 Merging the two systems would also separate the management of workers compensation medical from the management of disability, which would result in an increase in the duration of disability and an increase in costs. The key is the employer/insurer focus on return-to- work programs for injured employees. Expert occupational medical care, promptly delivered and coordinated with an effective return-to-work program, will have the greatest impact on reducing the period of disability and containing workers compensation costs.
 -0- 9/23/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Liberty Mutual is the country's largest provider of workers compensation services. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., the company has more than 19,000 employees located in over 450 offices across the U.S., Canada and the U.K./
 /CONTACT: John Cusolito, manager-external relations of Liberty Mutual, 617-574-5512/


CO: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ST: Massachusetts IN: HEA INS SU:

TM -- NY113 -- 4987 09/23/93 00:25 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 23, 1993
Words:436
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