State Senator Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow) urged the Democrat leadership of the Senate to stop allowing political alliances to derail workers' compensation reform. Pruitt, the principal author of SB 770 which will transfer Oklahoma's antiquated court based workers' comp system to a more efficient administrative system, feels that needed reform is falling prey to the powerful lobby of the trial bar.
"The Judiciary Committee Chairman is allowing the trial lawyers to direct the agenda on workers' comp reform," Pruitt said. "The chairman is placing political allegiance to the trial lawyers over the needs of Oklahoma workers and businesses."
"It is widely known that the trial lawyers oppose true workers' comp reform because it affects their pocketbooks," Pruitt said. "I can understand their opposition. However, I can't understand how the chairman lets the voice of one group outweigh the cries of the thousands of injured workers waiting for benefits."
Pruitt also warned Oklahomans to be wary of promises to provide reform through some mystical shell bill that will appear at the end of session. "Look at their record," Pruitt explained. "Last year they brought 'reform' by cutting the medical fee schedule. Now we have doctors suing the Court Administrator, injured workers unable to find treatment and all the while the lawyers are taking their 20 percent to bank."
"Oklahoma is in the top five in the nation for costs and at the bottom end in regards to benefits we pay the injured workers," Pruitt said. "There is only one person who profits from a workers' compensation claim, the lawyer. Can we really expect a leadership that is completely beholden to trial lawyer interests to have any credibility when the say they'll provide the reforms injured workers deserve? Examine the record and you'll see the answer."