Republican Senators Approve Bill to Create Work Comp Fraud Prosecutor
Thursday, March 1, 2018 | 136 | 0 | 12 min read
A year after voting to roll back certain workers' compensation benefits, Iowa's Senate Republicans have approved a bill to create a special state prosecutor to combat workers' compensation fraud, the Des Moines Register reports.
Like HF 518 before it, Sen. Jake Chapman's SF 2305 met heated opposition from Democrats on the Senate floor before it passed along party lines by a 28-22 vote.
Democrats said SF 2305 presents a solution in search of a problem and unfairly targets workers while doing little to address employer or insurer misconduct.
"I don’t understand why you hate workers so much. Because that’s what this bill to me says," Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, told Republicans in an impassioned floor speech. "You don't have any respect for the people who go to work every day to try to make a living and give profit to a company. Every day, year in and year out punching a clock."
Dotzler's colleague, Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, also spoke in opposition to the bill.
"The purpose of this bill, quite simply, is to intimidate injured workers away from filing claims for workers’ compensation," Quirmbach said. "Fraud is already illegal. Fraud is already prosecutable."
Chapman, R-Adel, said the bill would have no effect on legitimate claims from workers. He said the Iowa Insurance Division's fraud bureau currently has no dedicated prosecutor to go after workers' compensation fraud, so this bill would fill what he sees as a void.
"The problem is that, as we dug into this, it seems no one is taking ownership of investigating and prosecuting workers' compensation fraud," Chapman said in an interview with the Des Moines Register.
Chapman denied that SF 2305 was tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that advocates for conservative legislation, saying, "This is not an ALEC bill. This is a Senator Chapman bill."
The bill was referred to the Iowa House of Representatives' Commerce Committee on Wednesday.