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Governor Bush Creates Commission on Workers' Compensation Reform


TAMPA--Governor Bush today issued Executive Order 02-158, creating the Governor's Commission on Workers' Compensation Reform. Governor Bush charged the Commission to study and make policy recommendations regarding the availability and affordability of workers' compensation insurance, impediments to quicker resolution of workers' compensation claims, changes necessary to reduce the cost of workers' compensation insurance and the adequacy of benefits for injured workers.

"The cost of workers' compensation insurance in the state of Florida is among the highest in the nation, yet benefits paid to or on behalf of injured workers in Florida are among the lowest nationwide," said Governor Bush. "The workers' compensation system needs to be reformed to better serve those it is intended to benefit, both employers and injured employees."

Studies related to workers' compensation indicate Florida's costs for:

· Permanent and total disability claims are more than two-and-a-half times the national average;

· Medical costs related to permanent partial impairment claims are two times the national average;

· Medical claims for temporary total disability claims are 60 percent higher than the national average; and

· Medical and indemnity costs for cases with legal involvement average over $40,000, more than 25 percent higher than the national average.

"The high cost of this insurance is placing an unnecessary burden on Florida's employers and remains an impediment to the state's ability to attract and retain businesses in this state," said Governor Bush. "In order for Florida to be competitive with other states in attracting diverse industries to this state, the cost of workers' compensation insurance must be reduced."

"I applaud the Governor's goal of improving the availability and affordability of workers' compensation insurance in Florida," said Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher, whose department will oversee the Division of Workers' Compensation starting July 1. "We look forward to being part of the solution to the escalating problems in our workers' compensation system - cost, safety, fraud and inefficiency. I'm committed to supporting reforms that will reduce rising costs for employers while also improving the delivery of medical services to injured workers."

Governor Bush announced the following appointments to the Commission on Workers' Compensation Reform:

· Pete Carpenter, of Jacksonville, Former Chief Operating Officer, CSX Transportation, Inc. (Chair).

· Claude Revels, of Keystone Heights, Corporate Safety Director, JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

· Kathleen Davies, of Miami, Sr. Director of Safety and Risk Management, Burger King Corporation.

· Carlos Cantero, of Orlando, Owner, C.D.S. Sitework and Trucking, Inc.

· Derrick Wallace, of Orlando, President and Chief Executive Officer of Construct Two; President of the Economic Development Commission in Orlando; Board of Directors, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

· Judge Maria Ortiz, of Miami, Judge of Compensation Claims, District K.

· Hayden Dempsey, of Tallahassee, Executive Office of the Governor.

· Kevin McCarty, of Tallahassee, Department of Insurance.

· Dwayne Sealey, of Tallahassee, Secretary-Treasurer, Florida AFL-CIO.

· Stuart Colling, of Maitland, President of Florida Workers Advocates.

· Michael Ozegovich, of Key Largo, Community Services Director; South Florida Carpenters Regional Council.

· Sen. Bill Posey, of Rockledge, Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

· Rep. Leslie Waters, of Largo, Chair of the House Insurance Committee.

The Commission will hold public hearings throughout the state and shall submit its report and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature by January 31, 2003.