By Sheena Harrison
Feb. 28, 2012
A set of bills has advanced in the Oklahoma Legislature that would allow employers to opt out of the state’s workers’ compensation system by establishing an alternative plan.
Oklahoma’s House Judiciary Committee passed H.B. 2155 on an 8-5 vote Feb. 27. The legislation would allow employers to exempt themselves from Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system by meeting several criteria, such as adopting a benefit plan that would pay for medical, disability and death benefits resulting from work-related injuries.
The exemption would be allowed only for “qualified employers” that have 50 or more employees and have exceeded certain thresholds for workers’ comp losses. Those include an ex mod greater than 1.00, or total annual incurred claims greater than $50,000 in at least one of three preceding insurance policy years.
The Oklahoma Senate Judiciary Committee last week passed a similarly worded companion bill. Both bills have been presented to the full Oklahoma House and Senate for consideration.
If approved, Oklahoma would become the second state to adopt an alternative workers’ comp system. Texas has operated a similar opt-out system since 1913.
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