House to study workers’ comp insurance issues House to study workers’ comp insurance issues February 1, 2003 Regular News Saying a coming crisis in workers’ compensation insurance threatens Florida’s economy, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd has appointed a select committee to explore the issue and recommend concrete changes for the spring Regular Session.The new panel will be chaired by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, a workers’ comp attorney who has been deeply involved in the issue in recent sessions.“We are in a position in Florida of quickly moving to a crisis in affordability and availability of workers’ compensation insurance,” Byrd said at a January 16 press conference announcing the new committee. “I’m asking this select committee to review the complete workers’ compensation system and to review the findings and recommendations of the governor’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform and other findings and recommendations it deems appropriate.”The committee is specifically charged with reviewing the affordability and availability of workers’ comp insurance, fraud and abuse in the system, assuring benefits are adequate and equitable for workers, and ways to streamline administration of the system.”“Our goal is to ensure we keep Florida working,” Byrd said, comparing Florida’s business environment to its fragile ecosystem. “Three out of every four businesses in Florida have 10 or less employees. So each Friday or each payday these small business people have to make a decision: Are they able to make payroll and stay in business? Can they afford health insurance for their employees? And above all can they afford and can they even find workers’ compensation insurance?”Asked if he blamed lawyers for over- litigating in the system, Byrd said he’s found that the system is not self-executing as it was intended. “The system is to blame.. . . Is there something about the system we can change to get more benefits to the employee and benefits that are provided earlier?” he said. “We want to make it easy for workers to get benefits when they are in fact injured.”Ross said the select committee would hear from all interested parties, including injured workers, as it grapples with the issue. He anticipated the first meeting of the select committee would be later this month.“The goal is to make the state of Florida the flagship of workers’ compensation,” he said.Besides Ross, other members of the panel are Vice Chair Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, Rep. Jim Kallinger, R-Winter Park, Rep. Terry Fields, D-Jacksonville, Rep. Carl Domino, R-Palm Beach Gardens, Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, Rep. Baxter Troutman, R-Winter Haven, and Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa.The announcement came five days before the Governor’s special commission was to hold its final meeting and make recommendations.