Bill for expedited workers comp hearings clears House

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A measure allowing quicker workers' compensation hearings in some cases passed the state House on Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, would allow the Workers' Compensation Board to expedite hearings on a disputed claim if a delay could result in physical harm to the injured worker.

For instance, Division of Workers Compensation Director Paul Grossi said a dispute could center on whether an injured worker needs surgery or some less invasive treatment. If a delay in settling the issue could worsen the medical condition, the board could move the case to the top of its list of cases to be heard.

Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage, tried to amend the bill to make it mandatory that the board expedite such hearings, instead of simply allowing that.

Coghill argued that would add to the cost of the bill, and Crawford's amendment failed.

The bill also requires doctors who perform workers' compensation exams in Alaska to be licensed to practice medicine here.

House Bill 274 passed 36-0. It now goes to the Senate.

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