Louisiana Comp Blog hosted its first “Comp in Focus” luncheon last Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 at Ralph’s on the Park in New Orleans.
The event, which aimed to draw attendees from both the claimant/labor side of the system and the employer/insurer sector, was helmed by veteran speaker Charles R. “Chuck” Davoli. Davoli addressed a big picture view of the future of workers’ comp as a system of social insurance, focusing in particular on the potential challenges posed by “opt-out” – the statutory “Option” in Texas and Oklahoma that allows employers to go without traditional workers’ compensation insurance.
“Option” legislation has been popularized in state legislatures throughout the country in the last several years, due largely to the efforts of the Texas-based Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC). Davoli, who is a prominent local claimant attorney, mediator, and active on the national scale with the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group (as immediate past-President) cited several examples of ARAWC’s successful message. The Group’s stance that an “Option” acts as a market pressure to increase competition and make certain states with such provisions comparatively more “business-
friendly” vis-a-vis other areas has proved itself to be convincing in Oklahoma already. Davoli noted that the spread continues to be wide-ranging, identifying
Tennessee and South Carolina as current ARAWC target states and saying that he anticipates further progress for the organization.
“Texas is an anomaly in that it’s actually an ‘opt-in’ system, with thirty-seven percent of employers foregoing coverage,” Davoi said. “That [system] might not happen in other states, but you better believe something like Oklahoma can and will.” Davoli went on to discuss constitutional challenges and other issues placing the current one hundred year old comp scheme in a “dire” situation.
As the twenty-nine participants enjoyed their meal, they were encouraged to ask questions throughout the presentation. Gary Kern, of Risk Savers LLC, sounded off about the distinct differences between the Texas system and Louisiana’s, while vocal attorneys from both sides, including Wayne Fontana, Greg Hubachek and Bobby Truitt, shared their ideas about everything from the moral obligation in workers’ comp and its relevance to the concept of cost-shifting from the comp system to group health under opt-out.
The next “Comp in Focus” luncheon will be held on November 17th, 2015, also at Ralph’s on the Park in New Orleans from 11 AM to 1 PM. The speaker will be announced soon and registration will open next week. For more information about “Comp in Focus,” contact Louisiana Comp Blog.
Access previous Comp Blog coverage of the opt-out trend here.
Image Credit: Facebook, The Monson Law Firm