New Iowa bills propose changes to workmans compensation



    Doug Collins and his attorney Dennis McElwain are discussing the possible effect if two bills were approved that are aimed at reducing compensation benefits for workers who get injured on the job.

    Workers compensation is something Collins is all to familiar with.

    When working as a loader for a local company, he was required to pick up and move things that were extremely heavy.

    Collins said, "Eight years into it they changed the schedule of the work that I did. They essentially took my shift and cut it in half and asked me to do the same amount of work."

    This made his job much more strenuous and as a result he injured his knee. When reporting it to his manager the company just brushed it off. He continued to work on his injured knee out of fear of losing his job for about a year.

    Once the pain was too much to handle he notified his manager again.

    "They again gave me the indication that they weren't going to do anything with it. They weren't going to file a claim and they weren't going to send me to a doctor,"said Collins.

    So Collins then went through a partial knee replacement surgery and took his employer to court to request workers compensation.

    Collins stated, "we had a decision from the court that said we were correct. Immediately the insurance company files an appeal and you now go through another period of time waiting."

    Waiting is exaclty what Collins did. And although the appeal was denied and he was compensated for his injury, he and his attorney are now worried about this possible change to workers compensation laws.

    McElwain says these bills if approved will cut benefits for seniors.

    "For older workers this law is viciuos," said McElwain.

    Anyone already getting workers compensation loses it once they turn 67. If they get injured at that age or after they would only qualify for compensation for 150 weeks.

    Not only do these bills target people who are older, it will also reduce benefits for injuries tied to pre-existing conditions and minimize late fees for employers.

    Opponents say the changes would burden employees and favor businesses but some businesses and statehouse Republicans that support the bill say it would protect employers and close loopholes exploited in the current system.

    "The fact of the matter is there has been abuse in the system."

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