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Oklahoma workers’ compensation system under new scrutiny

Oklahoma Capitol

Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three years after passage of sweeping legislation that revamped Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system, courts are scrapping significant parts of the law in decisions that say the regulations violate the state constitution and do not provide adequate protection to workers.

The regulations were touted by the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature as a way to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for employers and improve health outcomes for injured workers by moving the workers’ compensation system from an adversarial court-based system to an administrative one.

But since the new law went into effect, 38 provisions have been found unconstitutional, invalid or inoperable. And a new research report says that while the cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Oklahoma has declined, the cost is still high and benefits to injured workers have plummeted.