Oklahoma State Senate
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: March
Senator Charlie Laster
Democrats Push Governor Henry’s Workers
Comp, Reform Measure Through Senate
Workers compensation reforms proposed by Governor
Brad Henry passed through the Oklahoma State Senate Wednesday
afternoon on a straight party-line vote.
With Democrats backing the Governor’s proposal and Republicans
voting in opposition, Senate Bill 846 was approved on a 25-21 vote.
“This legislation will save money for Oklahoma businesses,
protect the rights of injured workers and provide a boost to Oklahoma’s
economy,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charlie
Laster, author of the measure
Laster, D-Shawnee, said the bill is the result of months of work
by a bi-partisan task force.
“This is the only bill introduced this year that gets at the
heart of the biggest cost factor in workers compensation cases –
the rapidly rising price of health care,” Laster said.
Health care accounts for 54 percent of the costs of workers compensation
claims, he said. SB 846 reduces the medical fee schedule for surgeries
related to on-the-job injuries to 175 percent of the federal reimbursement
rate for Medicare and 130 percent of the Medicare rate for all other
procedures, said Laster, D-Shawnee.
Additionally, he said, SB 846 addresses the issue of “dueling
doctors” while protecting the right of an injured workers
to seek a second opinion from a doctor their choice if their employer
selected the initial treating physician.
SB 846 allows the Workers’ Compensation Court to order mediation
on a disputed claim if either side requests it or if the Court think
it is necessary.
The measure also increases funding for safety programs at the Oklahoma
Department of Labor, CareerTech and the Workers Compensation Court
and increases funeral, death and disfigurement benefits for injured
workers, Laster said.
The measure also makes Form 2s, the first notification of an on-the-job
injury, confidential, protecting the privacy of injured workers
and preventing attorneys from using open records to seek potential
“The legislation is the result of months of work by a bi-partisan
task force and I believe it offers beneficial reforms for our state’s
system of compensating workers injured on the job,” Laster
Senate Communications Office- (405) 521-5774