Workers’ Compensation

It has been over a decade since the 2005 landmark House Bill 7 legislative reforms, and the Texas workers’ compensation system has shown significant improvements in a variety of areas, including injury rates, employer participation, claims costs, return-to-work outcomes, access to care and insurance rates and premiums. TAB has worked closely with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to ensure that the system meets the basic legislative goals of providing adequate benefits to injured employees at a reasonable cost to Texas employers. TAB also champions nonsubscription in Texas as a way for employers to effectively manage care for their injured workers. TAB’s workers’ compensation/nonsubscription priorities include:

Drug Compounding. Support legislation that aids in the safety of injured workers when compounding drugs. Support legislation that addresses the high cost of compounding.

Exemplary Damage Caps. Oppose legislation to remove caps on exemplary damages in workers’ compensation claims, and oppose any attempts to reverse the Rutiger decision.

Fraud Monitoring, Detection and Prosecution. Support legislation that increases the Texas Department of Insurance’s ability to identify and prosecute fraud and abuse within the workers’ compensation system. Also, support incentives for the identification and successful prosecution of workers’ compensation fraud.

Health and Safety. Support cost-effective health and safety measures.

Illegal Drug Use. Support legislation encouraging zero tolerance for the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job. Support efforts to make the intoxication defense stronger.

Impairment Ratings. Support legislation to maintain the objectivity of the workers’ compensation system by ensuring that adopted medical impairment guidelines do not raise impairment benefit amounts. Oppose efforts to lower the impairment rating threshold for an injured worker to receive supplemental income benefits. Also, support continued monitoring of the income benefits system.

Indemnity Benefits. Ensure that indemnity benefit changes are based on reliable data vetted by the employer and insurance community and that changes do not negatively impact return-to-work initiatives.

Mandatory Workers’ Compensation. Oppose legislative efforts to mandate workers’ compensation coverage.

Mental Health. Oppose legislation designed to expand mental health treatment guidelines or the inclusion of psychologists as authorized treating physicians.

Nonsubscription. Oppose any legislation that would directly or indirectly hurt nonsubscription plans. Nonsubscription refers to a Texas-specific law that allows employers to opt out of providing workers’ compensation benefits and create their own insurance plan to control costs and make injured workers whole.

Opinion of Chosen Doctor. Support legislation to clarify that claimants may not appeal the opinions of their treating doctor in the areas of medical treatment, impairment and dispute process.

Over-Burdensome Laws. Oppose legislation that imposes new laws or regulations on employers that are non-subscribers to workers’ compensation.

Performance Based Oversight (PBO). Support efforts to eliminate PBO, which has been more of a regulatory burden than an effective tool to increase the quality of the workers’ compensation system.   

Physician Dispensing. Oppose efforts to allow physician dispensing of prescription drugs.

Physician Training. Support measures to increase training of medical providers in the inappropriate use of narcotics.

Regulatory Efficiency. Support measures to increase efficiency in the operation and administration of the Texas Department of Insurance and within the DWC and reduce unnecessary administrative and legal burdens.

Retaliatory Discharge. Support legislation to limit damages and restrict the scope of action filed by a terminated employee for workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge.

Return-to-Work (RTW) Guidelines. Support legislation to allow treating physicians and employers to use the same guidelines for RTW and treatment.

Settlements. Oppose legislation that attempts to reintroduce lump sum settlements, including medical lifetime benefits, into the Texas workers’ compensation system.

Statutory Employer. Support and preserve the current regulatory structure that prevents lawsuits against employers and property owners who provide workers’ compensation insurance.

Subrogation Rights. Support legislation to maintain subrogation rights of employers and insurers in recouping money paid to claimants for third-party actions.

Subsequent Injury Fund. Support legislation to secure the solvency of the Subsequent Injury Fund that does not require an increase in the maintenance tax.

Treating Physicians. Support legislation that strengthens the role of treating physicians to ensure quality medical care and effective management of care for injured workers. Also, support clarifying current law regarding the authorization for a treating doctor.

Utilization Review. Support legislation to promote utilization review as a method of cost containment and quality improvement.

Waiver. Support legislation to specify that the defense of “no compensable injury” cannot be waived regardless of any time constraints.