Thank you for following 100 Reflections

The IAIABC thanks you for taking part in 100 Reflections: Moving Workers’ Compensation Forward. The 100 reflections contributed over the last few months from industry leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow have made us all take a step back and think about where workers’ compensation has been, where it is, and where it might go in the future. These reflections have provided insightful and thoughtful perspectives on how workers’ compensation has grown, developed, and changed over its first 100 years in the U.S. Looking forward to the next 100 years, the IAIABC will strive to continue dialogue and discussion to help positively shape workers’ compensation.

Again, thank you for participating in 100 Reflections.

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Reflection 100

As the final contribution to the 100 Reflections, I have had the benefit of reading the previous 99, and appreciating the history, insights, and wisdom that have been exhibited by these writers.  Many of the writers have been from decades ago, as our workers’ compensation systems were just being born.  Other writers are our modern-day contemporaries who are currently engaged in shaping public policy so this system of accident insurance strikes the appropriate balance in its impact upon all stakeholders.  Many of these writers are here in this room as participants in this meeting.

If you have also read these previous reflections, you have noted that many of the challenges of the early years have been addressed and resolved.  These were issues such as the idea of exclusive remedy, no fault coverage, and prompt medical attention at no cost to the injured worker.  These were somewhat novel concepts that were developed into our respective state laws and policies, and, today are held as foundational to each system.  However, in reading on you will have also noted that today we still struggle with many of the same issues as dealt with by the pioneers, and this could cause us to ponder if these will ever be resolved, or will we forever be stuck in debate.  It appears that the answer is “yes.”  Many of the issues will forever be there, and policymakers will continue to be in debate as to the best laws and regulations to administer the state-based systems.  We will continue to exchange information and ideas while engaging all stakeholders in the decision-making process, working toward agreement through compromise, rather than stagnation through polarized positions that result in no progress at all.

So, to fellow administrators, I challenge us to engage all participants in the process to make certain we are striving constantly to improve.  We cannot go wrong by focusing on the human element, all striving to reduce the frequency and severity of work-related injuries while assuring that injured workers receive prompt-excellent medical care, timely-fair payment of compensation benefits, and, if at all possible, returned to meaningful work at which they can enjoy living and working.  These improvements cannot be made in the offices of the bureaucracies, but by engaging the people impacted: the workers, employers, doctors, lawyers, insurance providers, and, any other group who has a stake in the system.

So, we must continue the dialogue… the healthy debate and deliberation upon which our public policy is forged; and, in doing so, we are assured that all voices are heard, all positions are considered, and we will continue to make progress, moving forward through information sharing, through education, and through building relationships.

– D. Alan McClain, IAIABC President and CEO, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission

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Reflection 99

Today the IAIABC reflected on Wisconsin’s movement 100 years ago to develop a fair and just workers’ compensation system. Attendees were treated to a dramatic re-enactment at the Annual Convention that took us back to 1911 and the debate and dialogue that created the first constitutional workers’ compensation law in the U.S.

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Reflection 98

… there remains the omnipresent need of improved workmen’s compensation legislation and administration. Measured either by the yardstick of social values or the economic importance of workmen’s compensation, there is here a challenge worthy of our most careful attention and our best efforts.

We bring these Association meetings a rich variety of experience, compounded of our local needs and local problems. Each of us, in our home State or Province, has to live in the climate of local attitudes and viewpoints. Alike, however, we all have the obligation of pointing out those measures necessary for sound improvement of our legislation and of stimulating or compelling the utmost possible by way of the cooperation of those whose quality of performance can improve or impair the quality of our own administration.

-Ms. Mary Donlon, IAIABC President and Chairman, New York Workmen’s Compensation Board. From the proceedings of the 1948 IAIABC Convention.

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Reflection 97

Looking back at through convention proceedings for the past decade, it is interesting to note that there have been changes in people, changes in administrations, changes in legislation, changes in procedure – but most of the same problems exist today -perhaps in a slightly different form.

The spectre of federal takeover still looms ominously on the horizon. Critics point an accusing finger at weaknesses in a few state programs and seemingly ignore the overall progress of a system which has increased benefits more then seven-fold since 1940. The debate continues over who should have the primary responsibility for enforcement of industrial safety. Practically everyone admits that rehabilitation is essential to the administration of a sound workmen’s compensation program, and yet some jurisdictions have failed to function in this area.

– Mr. A. Worley, President, Rock City Packaging, Inc.; Former Chairman, Florida Industrial Commission; Past President, IAIABC. From the proceedings of the 1969 IAIABC Convention

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