Prominent Oklahoma workers’ comp attorney Bob Burke has called for an investigation into whether a state agency’s failure to obtain prior approval to operate a new workers’ comp self-insurance plan has left thousands of state employees temporarily without coverage. According to The Oklahoman, Burke delivered a letter to the offices of the governor and state attorney general Friday outlining his concerns and calling for an immediate investigation after he discovered that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services had a two month gap between the supposed start date of some of the government policies and its submission of a signed application to self-insure. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services contends that the application is irrelevant because it was a voluntary step and not required of them as a state entity.
Included under the purview of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services is the state Workers’ Compensation Commission which has promised to process the current application as quickly as possible. The Commission’s employees would be some of those Burke claims were not covered. Burke also outlined the potential fines the offending state agencies could face under Oklahoma law if treated as ordinary separate employers. “As of today, each of your offices is subject to the assessment of a $73,000 fine for being ‘uninsured’ under the workers’ compensation law for 73 days,” Burke wrote. “If the commission followed the letter of the law, the approximately 117 state agencies affected could be fined $8.5 million as of today, a direct hit against the taxpayers and the state budget.”
Read full coverage from The Oklahoman here.