While the state Legislature is making big strides in modernizing the outdated workers’ compensation system, there are still many identified areas of improvement that are holding upstate New York back from its full potential.
Upstate New York is bearing the brunt of the state’s antiquated and ineffective workers’ compensation system, according to a Times Union op-ed co-authored by NFIB/New York State Director Mike Durant. A recent report on New York’s regional workforce found that the upstate region exhibited a decline in economic growth and an increase in unemployment rates. While there are many factors attributing to this regional trend, New York’s workers’ compensation costs are the third most costly in the United States—as of 2016—and severely hinder growth in the upstate area.
The state Legislature pushed forward reforms to the compensation system in this year’s budget, which could lower costs for businesses and taxpayers and improve injury protections for workers. However, until 2017, the system hadn’t been revised for nearly 10 years, the medical impairment guidelines were last updated over two decades ago, and there were many gaps in how modernized medicine and technology manage injuries now.
In October, a revision to the impairment guidelines was drafted and made accessible for public comment, but there are still many subjective and ambiguous instructions that need clarification. Additionally, the $10 billion workers’ compensation system needs to be modernized and improved to become more affordable for businesses, employees, and taxpayers. This is necessary for upstate New York to regain prosperity and help develop the state economy.