St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Changes to Glades bill alarm Congress
  • Mystery group targets House budget cuts
  • Budget balancing could drive up tuition, class sizes
  • Runoff will pick Jacksonville mayor
  • Legislature: With few friends, workers' comp bill moves ahead
  • Legislature: Senate moves to cool down debate on smoking limits
  • Legislature: Senate panel approves malpractice measures
  • Around the state: State to look at buying Cypress Gardens
  • Police pension board blamed in theft

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
    Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times


    With few friends, workers' comp bill moves ahead

    Senators on both sides of the issue find things to dislike - but it clears the Banking and Insurance Committee, anyway.

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 16, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday introduced a workers' compensation plan that left people on both sides of the debate grumbling.

    The bill (SB 1132) would give out-of-state doctors a role in deciding who gets benefits, limit attorney fees and cut off nonmedical benefits for the permanently disabled workers at age 75.

    Two members of the Banking and Insurance Committee voted against it. Insurance companies, business groups, doctors and workers advocates were unhappy with details.

    But committee Chairman Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, seemed content with the bill, which he said would meet a request by Gov. Jeb Bush.

    The governor has made workers' compensation a priority and has asked the Legislature to adopt a plan that would lower rates by 15 percent.

    "If anyone is not duly offended by this bill, they don't have a dog in the hunt," said Posey.

    Among the changes, the new law would:

    Narrow the definition of permanent total disability benefits and place the burden on afflicted workers seeking that status to prove they cannot work in any capacity.

    Cut off nonmedical, permanent total disability benefits at age 75.

    Establish a complicated review process with a panel of out-of-state doctors to settle disputes over medical benefits denied by insurance companies.

    Create a legal fee sliding scale of percentages.

    Create a fee schedule for doctors that pays 125 percent of Medicare.

    Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac, objected.

    "I think it gravely harms injured workers and improves the situation for workers' comp insurance carriers and employers at the expense of injured workers," Wasserman Schultz said.

    She wanted more latitude for workers seeking permanent total disability status, limits to fees collected by attorneys who defend insurance companies and a competitive rate-filing system.

    But sensing a lack of support, Wasserman Schultz withdrew several amendments seeking those and other changes.

    Worker advocates were pleased that the committee eliminated two special immunity provisions sought by businesses and insurance companies. One gave immunity to employers who intentionally put their employees in dangerous situations that lead to injuries. The other protected one subcontractor from a lawsuit when an employee injures another subcontractor's employee on a general contractor's site.

    Both were included in a revised House bill favored by the insurance industry.

    Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk