WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 13, 2011 -
I appreciate the opportunity to speak briefly on the legislation before the committee this morning. I would like thank you, Mr. Miller, and Ms. Woolsey for your leadership, and for working with us to advance federal workers’ compensation reform.
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act has long represented our commitment to the men and women who serve our nation in the federal workforce. Employment with the federal government should not preclude a worker from receiving the care and assistance they may need when they become injured or ill through a work-related activity.
At a hearing the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held in May, we learned of a number of challenges confronting the program. Rural workers often lack access to medical care. Compensation is set to formulas that were sensible during the 1940s, but that make absolutely no sense in today’s economy.
Such challenges have arisen as a direct result of policymakers’ ongoing failure to ensure the program kept pace with changes in our workforce and economy. The federal workers’ compensation program requires constant oversight to keep up with the needs of the intended beneficiaries and the expectations of the hardworking taxpayers.
That is why I am delighted to be a part of this bipartisan initiative to update and improve this important program. In an effort to bring this program into the twenty-first century, the legislation before us today does three important things:
First, it enhances the program’s efficiency. Thanks to this legislative reform, certain qualified medical professionals will be able to certify disability for traumatic injuries. Additionally, the claims process will be streamlined for federal workers who sustain a traumatic injury while employed in an area of armed conflict.
Second, H.R. 2465 improves the integrity of the federal workers’ compensation program. The legislation strengthens the enforcement authority of the Department of Labor to help ensure federal workers aren’t taking advantage of the system and taxpayer resources aren’t being wasted.
Third and finally, this legislation modernizes benefits to reflect today’s economy. Due to today’s efforts, compensation will provide the level of support workers need, and injuries or illnesses sustained as the result of terrorism will be treated like other war-risk hazards.
Mr. Chairman, as you noted earlier, this is commonsense reform that is long overdue. Again, thank you for your leadership, I look forward to continuing our work on this issue, and I yield back the remainder of my time.
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