During the 2017 legislative session, House Republicans championed bold legislation to expand opportunity and bring new growth to the state. We have already started to see positive results from those initiatives including House File 518, which reformed our Workers’ Compensation system to provide employers and workers with more certainty.
In a report released on August 9 by the Iowa Insurance Division, Workers’ Compensation Insurance rates are projected to decrease by 8.7 percent beginning January 1, 2018. This decrease is on top of the 3.9 percent decrease that went into effect on July 1, 2017. Combined, these reductions amount to millions of dollars in savings for Iowa businesses which translates into new jobs, higher wages for existing employees, and more competition across the state.
The proposed decreases are a direct result of our reforms which rebalance the scales and bring stability back to Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation system.
HF 518 brings things back into alignment with the original intent of the law which is to provide predictability for employers and employees without the need to hire costly attorneys. By reducing the number of cases requiring legal assistance, more of the Workers’ Compensation benefits can end up in the pocket of the injured worker.
House File 518 also codifies the shoulder as a scheduled member and compensates an injured employee similar to surrounding states. Additionally, workers that suffer a shoulder injury at work are eligible for vocational rehabilitation. If eligible, a worker can be enrolled in a community college program for job training, a certificate program, or an Associate’s Degree program at the employer’s expense.
The goal of Workers’ Compensation should be to provide a financial bridge for injured workers to get back to work as soon as possible. However, a recent Supreme Court decision allows injured workers to collect both full and partial disability benefits at the same time—creating a financial incentive to remain on disability. House File 518 ends this kind of double-dipping and helps get people back to work.
The reforms we enacted this year came at just the right time. Ten years ago, Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation rates were fifth lowest in the nation, but recently many small Iowa businesses were seeing unsustainable increases that threatened their ability to operate in the state. Now, with the passage of HF 518, costs are coming down and balance is being restored to Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation system.