30 November, 2011 11:12:00
Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – The U.S. House of Representatives has recently approved the Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act (H.R. 2465), commonsense legislation that will strengthen and enhance the workers’ compensation program for federal employees.
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) applauded passage of H.R. 2465. “Reform of the federal workers’ compensation program is long overdue,” he said. “I am grateful for the time and effort my colleagues on both sides of the aisle invested in advancing this responsible legislation. I hope this represents not only a first step toward modernizing the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, but also a renewed effort to work together in pursuit of meaningful solutions that better serve both workers and taxpayers.”
Chairman Kline introduced the Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act in July with support from Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Ranking Member Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
“The federal workers’ compensation program has not been significantly updated in almost 40 years,” said Rep. Walberg. “As is too often the case with government programs left unchecked, waste and inefficiencies have crept into the system, leading to poor use of taxpayer resources and diminished support for those the program is intended to serve. This legislation will help ensure federal employees have access to a program that reflects the realities of today’s economy and the best practices in medical care.”
Watch Rep. Walberg’s floor remarks on H.R. 2465 here.
Since 1916, a workers’ compensation program has provided benefits to federal employees who suffer injuries or illnesses as the result of their work. The program, established by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) and operated by the Department of Labor, is no longer effectively serving the needs of beneficiaries or taxpayers. For example, workers in rural areas often have limited access to medical care and only certain medical professionals can certify a worker’s disability. Additionally, compensation is often determined by outdated information that does not reflect the realities of the 21st century workplace.
The Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act will:
Enhance Program Efficiency
• Ensures that Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Nurses are reimbursed for their services and that these medical professionals can certify disability for traumatic injuries during an initial time period.
• Streamlines the claims process for workers who sustain a traumatic injury in a designated zone of armed conflict.
Improve Program Integrity
• Allows the Department of Labor to crosscheck a federal worker’s earnings with information held by the Social Security Administration.
• Authorizes the department to collect administrative costs and expenses from the federal agency that employs the injured or ill worker, promoting greater accountability in the program.
Modernize Benefits for Today’s Economy
• Ensures injuries or illnesses sustained as the result of terrorism are covered as a war-risk hazard. This will help guarantee federal workers injured abroad or in the line of duty are appropriately compensated.
• Provides additional support for funeral expenses (up to $6,000) and for workers who sustain an injury that leads to facial disfigurement (up to $50,000).