The NC General Assembly, which is now controlled by the Republicans for the first time in more than 100 years, is preparing to reduce the compensation payable to disabled workers in NC. These Republicans are giving in to pressure from the insurance industry and the NC Chamber of Commerce.

Among the expected benefit reductions will be a time limit on total disability wage loss payments to disabled workers. Currently, a disabled worker can draw his weekly wage loss TTD check until his disability ends. This is especially important to younger workers who have a family to support. But the Republicans think that it is a good idea to terminate these payments after a fixed number of weeks, probably 400 or 500 weeks from the accident. They plan to do this without regard to the fact that the injured worker is still disabled, and still has a family to support, when the time limit arrives.

The effect of this is not hard to predict. If the worker is still disabled at the end of the time period, then he will have no ability to work and support his family. When his comp checks end, he will have to go on various public assistance programs to pay the household bills. The programs are funded by our tax dollars. So, the Republicans want to shift the cost of the worst cases--the long-term disabled workers--from the insurance companies and employers over to the taxpayers!

There are other changes that we expect the Republicans to propose. All of the changes favor the insurance interests and go against injured workers. There is no reasonable explanation for it, except greed. The insurance industry has hired an outfit called WCRI to do a "study" that misinforms the legislators about our current workers' comp law. The truth is, our costs to employers ranks 23rd out of the 50 states, and insurance premium costs to employers have gone down significantly in NC since 1995. So this reform is basically a case of conservative politicians giving payback to insurance companies for their campaign contributions, at the cost of the very hard working voters that put them into office.

If you are concerned about the "Workers' Compensation Benefit Reduction Act of 2011," please contact your State House and State Senate reps and tell them what you think. If you are currently on workers' comp, explain to them how you are getting rich on comp, and how it has improved the quality of your life so much since you got hurt. I am being sarcastic, of course, but this kind of anti-worker reform deserves our sarcasm. You can identify and obtain the contact information for your representatives at this web site: www.ncga.state.nc.us You may need your 9 digit zip + 4 code, and you can obtain it from your drivers' license.

Please contact your legislators today. Time is of the essence.