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Spitzer unveils comp reform plan for N.Y.


ALBANY, N.Y.--Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Tuesday announced a compromise workers compensation reform package that he said would increase the weekly benefit paid to injured workers while reducing employer costs by up to 15%.

Under the long-awaited plan, an injured worker's maximum weekly benefit would increase from $400 to $500 in the first year, $550 in the second year, $600 in the third year, and would equal two-thirds of New York's average weekly wage in year four. Once the maximum benefit reaches two-thirds of the average weekly wage, it will be indexed annually, the governor reported.

Cost savings worth hundreds of millions of dollars are expected by setting a limit on the number of years that some claimants can receive cash benefits, Gov. Spitzer said. Medical services will continue, however, he said.

New York employers, especially manufacturers located upstate, have long complained that their workers comp costs are excessive because the state does not cap the length of time that claimants can collect permanent partial disability benefits.

Other changes in the package worked out with labor and business representatives include ending the state's Compensation Insurance Rating Board.