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NYS businesses wait on workers comp reform, as budget debate struggles

As negotiations over New York’s budget drag on, groups across the state are clamoring for information so they can plan out the next year. Those focused on worker’s compensation reform are used to the wait.

Workers compensation is the insurance employers must buy to protect employees that get injured or sick on the job. 

New York has the third highest workers comp rates in the nation. The debate centers around the level of care, the costs to businesses, and the time it takes to review a claim. 

It’s been ten years since the last workers compensation reform passed in New York. There’s been a push for more changes ever since. 

Christian Harris analyzes Southern Tier labor statistics for the New York Department of Labor. He said manufacturing and other blue collar companies in the region are most affected by workers comp, because those jobs are often more physical.

"It shows up in anecdotal conversation when you're at a workforce-type forum," Harris said. "It inevitably comes up as a cost of doing business in the area." 

He said businesses would like insurance costs to be more predictable. 

“[They'd like to] make it a fixed cost rather than revisit [it] every year, agonize over it, try to figure out if they should be proactive,” said Harris explained. 

A bipartisan bill to reform worker’s compensation is being pushed in the legislature.