Even though the new House bill that overturns Emma Murray was voted  in Congress on May 1, it did not land on Governor Crist’s desk until this past Friday, May 15.  Therefore, Crist has until May 30 to veto the bill.  If he does nothing then, according to the Florida Constitution, the bill automatically becomes law. 

Considering Governor Crist’s penchant for doing nothing, it seems to be a safe assumption that this bill will become law.  But, that is not stopping some major news publications from arguing for Crist to veto the bill.  (See the St. Pete Times editorials here and here.)

But none of these editorials make the argument as succinctly and compelling as one I heard today from a fellow Workers’ Comp attorney.  He called it the “long thin clown balloon” theory and it goes as follows. . .

If you took a long thin clown balloon–the kind clowns blow up and twist into animal shapes–and wrote “Employers” on one side and “Taxpayers” on the other side, this would represent Workers Compensation claims in the state of Florida.  If you squeezed the Employer side, all the air pressure would push to the Taxpayer side of the balloon.  Whereas, if you squeezed the Taxpayer side, then all the pressure would push to the Employer side.  

In other words, Workers Comp claims aren’t going anywhere, no matter how many attorney fee caps laws the Legislature creates.  Someone is going to have to pay for those claims.  If you prevent those injured workers from hiring attorneys and ultimately collecting W/C benefits, then those injured workers will just seek medical care from the state Medicare program. 

Of course, you know who pays for state medicare: the taxpayers.

Another Claimant attorney told me he estimates only about 25% of his clients have personal health insurance through their employment.  Which means without Workers’ Comp, they are all going to file claims with state Medicare. 

If Crist is looking to save taxpayer dollars and ultimately the state budget, he should consider the risks of rising Medicare costs if HB 903 becomes law.

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