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Letter to the Editor: Workers' comp system is broken

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

To the editor:Mark Baker's condemnation of workers' compensation in Missouri was justified. I was injured on the job last January and required surgery. From the beginning I have had to fight every step of the way to get medical treatment, therapy and money to live on. Even getting out of the hospital proved a challenge, since the insurance carrier accepted the claim but refused to authorize home equipment ordered by the doctor.

The insurance carrier for my employer tried to clear me to return to work before I could walk unassisted. I have located many complaints on the Internet suggesting that unscrupulous insurance carriers have a history of proclaiming injured workers ready to return to work when their doctors thought otherwise. These carriers have been accused of employing a strategy to starve people into accepting an early and insufficient settlement. My treatment would seem to support those accusations.

Workers' compensation was originally intended to ensure that injured workers were provided medical care and income until they could return to work. Three years ago, Missouri lawmakers changed the rules, making the injured party all but a criminal suspect and opening the way for unscrupulous insurance carriers in conjunction with hack doctors to starve injured workers into bankruptcy -- while denying the medical care the workers need to return to work. Missouri's workers' compensation system is a broken mess.

MARY KATHRYN MEYER, Jackson