With workers compensation reform among the top priorities for Senate leaders in the coming session, Sens. Anthony Sykes and Josh Brecheen are getting a firsthand look at Arkansas’ administrative model this week.
The two Senators traveled to visit with Arkansas officials about their transition to an administrative system, and its success in lowering workers comp premium rates and getting employees back to work efficiently.
Oklahoma’s is now the fourth most costly workers comp system in the country. Arkansas transitioned to an administrative system in the early 1990’s, and has since seen premium rates decline to well below those of the national median. Sykes said Arkansas’ workers comp success story could be a model for Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma’s workers comp structure imposes costs upon businesses that are a hindrance to job growth,” said Sykes, R-Moore. “Currently, Oklahoma is a regional outlier, with premium rates considerably higher than those of surrounding states and the national average. Our status as one of the worst performing states in workers compensation is a disincentive for economic development and is keeping us from reaching our full potential as an engine for prosperity.”
“We can learn a lot from Arkansas’ success in establishing a system that controls costs, operates efficiently and gets injured employees back to work.”
Brecheen said Oklahoma is one of only three states states that use a legal system for work-related injury cases. Surveys also indicated the issue is the primary concern for Oklahoma business, he added.
“Arkansas’ experience can provide us a roadmap for successfully reforming our system and producing positive results,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “Ours is the mostly costly system in the region, and is simply an inefficient use of public resources. Oklahoma taxpayers deserve better than this.”
“We feel confident a system modeled on Arkansas’ successes would remove a significant barrier to growth in Oklahoma.”