Friday, April 1, 2011

AIA PRAISES REINTRODUCTION OF LONGSHORE AND HARBOR WORKERS ACT CHANGES

A press release form the AIA sent yesterday announced:

The American Insurance Association (AIA) commended the reintroduction of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act Amendment of 2011 (S. 669) which is sponsored by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA).  The legislation would amend the federally-administered Longshore Act and will benefit injured workers and their employers by applying the best medical treatment and administrative practices from state workers’ compensation programs.

The Longshore Act is the nation’s most expensive workers’ compensation program.  The measure covers workers in the Longshore, shipbuilding, marine construction and other industries and is designed to improve and update the antiquated Longshore Act, which provides medical, physical rehabilitation and wage replacement benefits for work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.  The last time the Longshore Act was updated was in 1984.

“The Longshore Act is archaic and needs to be brought into the 21st century,” said Bruce Wood, associate general counsel and director of workers’ compensation for AIA.  “In 1984, Ronald Reagan was president, the Soviet Union was a country, and the Berlin Wall was still standing.  Meanwhile, state workers’ compensation systems have been modernized but the federal government hasn’t taken any action to update the Longshore Act.”

The costs associated with the out-of-date Longshore Act continue to rise faster than state workers’ compensation programs while employees and employers alike suffer from the unnecessary administrative burdens that plague the system.

Further, the bill provides an opportunity to improve medical care to enable injured workers to return to work and adopt the best workers’ compensation administrative practices to reduce costs to employers and the federal government.

AIA has been a long-time supporter of Senator Isakson’s efforts on the Longshore Act, extending back several years prior to 2006.  The bill also has the support of the Coalition for the Longshore Act, the Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation Association (UWC), the National Association of Waterfront Employers, the American Shipbuilders’ Association, and other assorted maritime employer interests.

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The American Insurance Association (AIA) is the leading property-casualty insurance trade organization, representing approximately 300 insurers that write more than $100 billion in premiums each year. AIA member companies offer all types of property - casualty insurance, including personal and commercial auto insurance, commercial property and liability coverage for small businesses, workers' compensation, homeowners' insurance, medical malpractice coverage, and product liability insurance.

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