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House passes workers' comp bill

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The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Friday to reverse a nearly year-old court ruling that led to higher workers' compensation costs for Pennsylvania employers.

The bill, H.B. 1840, was introduced last fall following the court ruling. It was approved in the state House on a vote of 115-80 amid a flurry of legislative activity before summer recess.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Labor & Industry Committee. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate as S.B. 963.

If enacted into law, the bill would bring back the use of so-called impairment rating evaluations, or IREs, which had been voided by the state Supreme Court ruling last summer. IREs had allowed companies to cap costs for paying out wages lost due to worker injury in certain cases.

The bill also would set a lower threshold than does the original law for determining when an injured worker is eligible for total disability compensation, but the change is not expected to affect many workers.

Supporters of the court ruling have said other measures are available to control costs in the workers' comp system.

However, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau, which helps to set workers' comp premiums in the state, cited the loss of IREs as a factor in raising premiums this year.

Editors' note: This story has been updated to correct the vote tally for the legislation.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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