Letter to the Editor: Injured workers need support for sure, and certain relief
WSI's denial of injured workers' claims made headlines last week. According to the latest performance review, over 900 more North Dakota claims are being denied now than 5 years ago. That is 17 per week or 3 per working day. This is shocking but not a new story. There was an increase in adjusted rate of denial from 6.9% in 2005 to 10.6% in 2009, apparently due to a "change in management philosophy" at WSI. Two years ago, the performance review cited the same reason for a jump from 6.9% in 2005 to 8.6% in 2007. Apparently, the trend toward more denials has continued in spite of the governor being put in charge by the voters with passage of Measure 4. Where is our governor in all of this?
WSI implies the jump is due to early reporting of minor incidents by employers. However, the 2008 report used an "adjusted rate" which did not include claims denied due to early reporting. The 2010 report also used the term "adjusted rate." I suspect early reporting of injuries was already factored out and the excuse won't hold water.
The report said "...claims practices were generally 'sound'." WSI is strictly interpreting laws as they exist today. The Performance Review recommended several changes in current law. The recommendations parallel what the North Dakota Injured Workers Support Group and others, including me, have been advocating for a long time. These proposed changes have been repeatedly voted down by our current legislators.
It is time voters speak up once again and elect legislators who will provide them sure and certain relief if they or their friends or family members are ever hurt on the job.