Ohio AFL-CIO Public Hearings on Workers’ Compensation
In 1995 the Ohio AFL-CIO conducted public hearings on workers’ compensation. Hearings were held in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. Legislators were invited to attend. No Cincinnati area legislator attended. You can read a summary of the hearings below.
The hearings were in response to a ten year outpouring of employer complaints about being “ripped off” by the Ohio workers’ compensation system. Those complaints resulted in workers’ compensation legislation in 1986, 1989 and 1993 designed to accommodate employers.
At the hearings chaired by Tom Bell, Jr., Ohio AFL-CIO Director of Workers’ Compensation, injured workers had an opportunity to tell their side of the story.
The hearing panel was dismayed at the havoc in people’s lives as a result of the present system. Injured workers spoke of having to go bankrupt, going through divorce or separation because of industrial injury and a claim being contested. There was open discussion by people who had suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide. The panel wondered how many suicides had occurred. There was substantial criticism of self-insurers at these hearings.
Overall the feeling was expressed that self-insurers follow their own rules and are not regulated by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
A summary of the criticism from the AFL-CIO public hearings on workers compensation follows:
- failure to pay compensation when ordered to do so;
- refusal to pay medical bills even though the service was authorized;
- refusal to pay medical bills without stating any reason;
- uniformly challenging all permanent partial tentative awards;
- encouraging the use of sickness and accident insurance instead of workers’ compensation;
- failing to honor return to work restrictions;
- failing to offer rehabilitation;
- failure to have an on-site person accountable for handling industrial claims;
- objecting to simple requests such as a request to change doctors;
- steering injured workers to doctors chosen by the employer (despite freedom of choice of doctor);
- ignoring requests for authorization of treatment.