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Letter to the Editor: Critical for legislatures to care about injured workers

My recent attendance and testimony at a Workers Compensation Review Committee meeting in Bismarck gave a sharp reminder of how critical it is that legislators in Bismarck truly care about injured workers. The committee considered proposed bills to decide whether each of them should be introduced in the 2011 legislature as potential laws.

Some of the bills would improve treatment for workers and will probably be passed by the 2011 legislature regardless who is serving. In other, more critical, areas the committee chose to have the 2011 legislature deal with problems instead of introducing bills or changing recognized flaws in proposed bills.

There are several examples. WSI denies certain claims that would be accepted in 90% of other states. By law, North Dakota is the only state that prorates the cost of certain injuries between workers compensation and the injured worker. A bill regarding partial impairment ratings for injured workers would be a disaster for them. Another bill forwarded for consideration says that WSI can not pay for brand name drugs unless the generic equivalent produces life-threatening side effects. Our 2011 legislature will have to vote on these and other issues.

The system we have now was set up by our current legislators. North Dakota employees deserve a workers compensation system that is at least as fair as those in other states. They will not get it unless the legislature votes to reverse some of the drastic changes it made in the 1990s. I encourage voters to know where their candidates stand on fairness to injured workers and vote for legislators that will work to improve our workers compensation system.

Sylvan Loegering

West Fargo

Candidate for District 13 State Senate and Volunteer Coordinator, ND Injured Workers Support Group