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June 25, 2003
States Address Soaring Workers' Compensation Costs
States are trying to find ways to reverse the trend of escalating workers' compensation insurance costs, the New York Times reports.

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The newspaper notes that the average cost of workers' compensation has jumped 50 percent in the last three years across the country, according to Robert P. Hartwig, chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute.

The governors of Florida, West Virginia and Washington have called upon their state's legislatures to address the issue. In addition, other states are considering bills to reduce costs of insurance for work injuries.

The problem is especially acute in California, where the average cost of the insurance has doubled over the past three years, according to the newspaper.

The escalating costs have forced some employers to lay off employees. Others have moved from the state or shut their doors entirely, state and industry officials tell the newspaper.

In California, industry and government officials say the rise in costs can be linked to more expensive medical and legal costs, a previous price war that now has forced insurers to increase premiums, and fraud.

California's Legislature has about 50 bills pending that involve workers' compensation, according to the newspaper. To lower costs, one state official wants to standardize medical procedures and create a panel to resolve disputes in order to avoid costly litigation.


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