Colorado lawmakers debate workers comp reform
April 1, 2010
DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers have begun debate on a package of tough reforms for Colorado’s workers compensation program after injured workers told lawmakers they were spied upon and had benefits denied.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved several bills, including a measure that would change the makeup of the board of directors of Pinnacol Assurance, the state-chartered insurance company.
Lawmakers added a doctor and an injured worker to the nine-member board to prevent abuses.
Cody Doane, who was injured when he fell off a scaffold, told lawmakers he was embarrassed after investigators followed him to his father’s funeral and shamed him in front of friends and neighbors, implying that he was committing fraud.
“We weren’t aware we were being surveilled at the funeral. It was a pretty rough day, and surveillance was furthest from my mind,” he said.
Doane said investigators waited outside the church for an hour during the funeral, then followed him to a memorial service, where they filmed him walking from his car to the service. He later got copies of the videos and was surprised to see they had been following him for a week.
The tough legislation was passed one day after Gov. Bill Ritter canceled a proposal to sell Pinnacol Assurance, the state-chartered workers insurance company, after lawmakers said there was no chance this year they would agree to privatize the company over concerns workers would not be adequately protected.
Pinnacol President Ken Ross opposed the reform package, including one measure, House Bill 1009, that would change the makeup of the board of directors, which he said would disrupt the management of Pinnacol at a time when it has been highly successful at lowering rates, issuing dividends and ensuring the delivery of excellent customer service. The measure passed.
Ross also opposed another bill that was laid over (House Bill 1012) that would limit surveillance, which Ross said will impede the ability of all insurance companies to conduct legitimate investigations and scrutinize fraudulent claims.