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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Workers’ Compensation Gets Needed Overhaul
07/18/2005

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

As the 79th Texas legislative session neared an end May 30, lawmakers reached an eleventh-hour agreement with the passage of a much-needed workers’ compensation reform bill.

When Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill into law June 1, he predicted the changes outlined in the legislation will cause insurance rates to fall, which will encourage more employers to opt into the state workers’ compensation system. The governor also said the law will encourage more medical providers to treat injured workers as negotiated medical fees replace government-mandated rates.

Texas has some of the highest workers’ compensation costs in the U.S. Under the current system, one in four Texans injured in the workplace will never fully return to work because of a lack of consistent care. Providers have been dropping out of the system because of the red tape involved, and employers are paying the third-highest rates in the nation for workers’ compensation coverage.

The new legislation allows the creation of networks to provide improved medical care, renews the system’s focus on return to work, enhances accountability and creates a new state agency to advocate for injured workers.

With the reforms passed, Texans injured on the job will get the improved care they deserve at a lower price employers can afford.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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