Workers' comp shows reform can work in WV - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Workers' comp shows reform can work in WV

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Not so long ago, West Virginia's workers' compensation system was broken. It simply did not work. There were a million reasons why it was so unsuccessful, but the bottom line was no one could look at the system we had and say it was even marginally efficient. No one was happy – businesses did not like it, workers did not like it and the entire operation was an albatross dragging this state down. So called "quick fixes" were anything but, and any attempt at change was stymied.

Gov. Bob Wise began the effort to take workers' comp out of state control. Gov. Joe Manchin then made reform a top priority of his first administration. He took bold action and worked with the Legislature to get the state out of the insurance business. Ultimately, Brickstreet Insurance was created. From day one, this venture has been a startling success.  Earlier this week it was announced that for the ninth consecutive year, the National Council on Compensation Insurance has reduced West Virginia's workers compensation insurance rates. Since the operation was privatized, we have seen a cumulative decrease of 48.1 percent. Those are amazing numbers. If history is any indication, we will continue to see a decrease.

Karen Price, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, said in a news release issued by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office, that the announcement makes business feel more confident when investing in West Virginia.

"Since West Virginia privatized our workers' compensation system, manufacturers have continued to see their premiums reduced," Price said. "Our members work hard to protect the safety of their employees and this announcement reinforces their efforts. Additionally, reductions in our workers' compensation contribute to our ever-improving business climate."

While this is just one component to making our state more attractive to business leaders, it's an important part of the puzzle. For so long, workers comp was a mess, and anyone looking to set up shop in West Virginia had to grapple with a system that was among the nation's worst.  Now, just a few years after major changes, we can say we're among the best.

We can only hope this serves as yet another lesson of what happens when our elected leaders allow us to do real work. Time and again, our work force has proven to be among the best. All we need is freedom and an opportunity to show what we can do. Brickstreet is a West Virginia company lead by West Virginians. They are further proof that our people can compete and excel.