An Assessment of the 1989 Texas Workers’ Compensation Reform Act
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In response to growing concerns about high workers' compensation costs and low levels of benefits, in 1987 the 70th Texas Legislature appointed the Joint Select Committee on Workers' Compensation Insurance to conduct a two-year study to identify problems with the system. The findings of this study formed the basis for the Texas Workers' Compensation Reform Act adopted during the following legislative session.
The purpose of this case study is to observe the Texas Workers’ Compensation Reform Act with the intent to gauge whether the objectives established by the reform were met. Specifically, the study analyzes the system’s emphasized importance on safety to reduce injuries in the workplace; the administration of an adequate, equitable, and effective delivery system of income benefits; the assurance of adequate medical care provided in a timely manner following the injury while maintaining insurance carriers’ expenditures at a comparable rate to other systems; and the outcome of the dispute resolution process. For this project, descriptive statistics of an administered survey and existing data are used to address the standards developed by the reform.
Overall, based on the responses from surveyed participants and analysis of available existing data, this study reveals some level of support that the system is meeting the standards required by the reform. System participants surveyed expressed some disagreement with the statements presented in the survey instrument related to safety and dispute resolution. Analysis of the existing data, however, demonstrates that the number of accidents have declined since the reform and is below the national averages. Furthermore, data strongly supports that the dispute resolution processes is successfully resolving disputes at the earliest possible level. Since injured employees were unable to participate in this analysis due to confidentiality issues, further research to address the variances between system participants' perception and analysis of existing data is recommended.