Does Iowa Provide A Glimpse Of The Future Of Colorado Workers’ Comp?

Mar 17 2017

Some states are considering scaling back workers’ compensation benefits and workers’ comp systems as a whole. This naturally leads to a question for Colorado workers – is our state next? That question is difficult to answer, especially due to the political party division that exists in Colorado’s state government. However, we can look at what is happening in these other states to get a glimpse of what may be in store for our state down the road.

Iowa Workers’ Comp Proposal Seeks A ‘One-Sided Outcome’

Perhaps the most extreme legislation that has been proposed comes from Iowa. Recent bills introduced in both the state House and Senate in the Hawkeye State would:

  • Reduce benefits for injuries that could be linked to pre-existing conditions
  • Reduce late fees that employers are required to pay when they don’t make benefit payments on time
  • Eliminate benefits for workers age 67 or older
  • Give employers the right to deny benefits in the event of a worker’s positive drug test, even drugs or alcohol played no part in the work injury

Many large businesses in Iowa, along with a number of the state’s Chambers of Commerce, support the bill. While the bill has recently cleared some initial hurdles, it still faces strong opposition. According to the Des Moines Register, one state Senator went as far as saying that the bill is designed to create “one-sided outcomes…it’s really about corporate benefit rather than protecting the rights of working Iowans.”

One lawmaker also took issue with the breakneck speed at which the bills are moving. He stated that it was disturbing that if the current pace keeps up, “you better hope you get injured this week and not next week.”

Will Similar Bills Come To Colorado?

Colorado may not see legislation as contentious as this in the near future, and even if it did the party divide that exists in our legislature all but ensures nothing that extreme would pass. However, it is likely that at least some proposals similar to parts of the Iowa bill will eventually make their way westward. Should that happen, be sure to get in touch with your elected officials to let them know that Colorado has long been known as a leader in worker safety and workers’ comp benefits, and it should stay that way.