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Workers’ attorneys rip proposed insurance hike

In another sign of a building debate about Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance system, attorneys for injured workers are blasting a proposed insurance rate hike for employers.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which makes rate filings for workers’ compensation insurers, submitted a revised proposal last week calling for a 19.6 rate increase that would go into effect Oct. 1. The proposal, an increase from an earlier proposal to raise rates 17.1 percent, stems heavily from two recent Florida Supreme Court rulings that struck down parts of the state’s workers’ compensation system, including a law that limited fees for attorneys who represent injured workers. The group Florida Workers’ Advocates, which includes attorneys for injured workers, issued a statement Friday afternoon criticizing the proposed rate filing.

“It shocks any honest, reasonable conscience for this ludicrous rate estimate to be jacked up from an already unbelievable work of fiction to an even higher number that is simply a flight of fabricated fantasy,” Mark Touby, president of Florida Workers’ Advocates, said in the statement. “The fuzzy math does not compute but it is consistent with NCCI [the National Council on Compensation Insurance] serving as a tool and pawn of the giants that dominate the workers comp insurance industry.”

Major business groups, which support limits on attorneys’ fees, are urging the Legislature to make changes to hold down workers’ compensation rates. That could touch off a lobbying battle involving numerous groups. The state Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a hearing Aug. 16 on the proposed rate hike.

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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