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Michigan Chamber of Commerce backs workers compensation reform bill

Michigan Chamber of Commerce backs workers compensation reform bill

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce announced its backing Tuesday for a new comprehensive workers compensation reform bill.

H.B. 5002, introduced Sept. 22 by Rep. Brad Jacobsen, R-Oxford, seeks to amend the Michigan Workers Disability Compensation Act of 1969. It would do so in large part by codifying current case law, said Wendy Block, the chamber's director of health policy and human resources.

Among other measures, the 32-page bill states that an injury would be compensable only if it is distinguishable from an employee's prior condition, and an “ordinary disease of life to which the public is generally exposed” outside of work would not be compensable.

It also states that mental disability not caused by physical trauma would be compensable only when it resulted from “greater mental stress and tension than the day-to-day mental stress and tension that all employees experience in similar employment.”

It also would reduce interest owed to claimants for delayed benefits payments from 10% to a rate determined by current market conditions, Ms. Block said.

The bill addresses a state Supreme Court finding that certain medical procedures, such as hip and knee replacement surgeries, should not be recognized when determining a worker's loss of function and related benefit amounts.

Currently, workers whose conditions have improved because of such surgeries are entitled to benefits as if they suffered a total loss of function, Ms. Block said.

The bill is in the House Commerce Committee.