New York Workers Compensation Reform

By Mike Trim

July 22, 2010 Updated Feb 28, 2007 at 8:43 PM EDT

Cutting costs to help keep companies competitive.

That's what National Pipe and Plastics here in Vestal says new workers compensation reform will do.

"It should be good for all business because all businesses are operating under the same conditions, they have high costs to operate in New York state and any way you can control a cost is beneficial," says Chuck Miller of National Pipe and Plasitcs.

Miller says his business competes with pipe and plastic companies in other states that have cheaper workers comp costs

He says the reform could be the key to more Southern Tier business growth.

Some disagree with the reform, saying the big problem is big cuts in permanent partial disabilities pay.

Under the reform proposal in the state legislature, people with partial disabilities could only collect benefits for up to 10 years.

Workers comp lawyer Wayne Chariff says that's unfair.

He says most people filing partial disability claims don't return to their normal job.

They may end up with lower paying work and higher hospital bills.

"Somebody's going to have to pay for it. So it just gets shifted from the workers compensation system to either friends, family, relatives, or the taxpayer through welfare and social services," says Wayne Chariff, a Workers Comp. Lawyer.

But there is a boost in benefits for severely injured workers, raising their short term pay from 400 to 500 dollars a week.

And they can continue to collect benefits for a lifetime.

The Governor and leaders in the state legislature have agreed to pass this workers comp reform plan.

Lawmakers say by caping partial disability benefits and making other cuts, they could save the system up to 1 billion dollars a year.

That will cover other benefit increases while lowering business premiums.

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