August 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Workers’ Comp Section monitors rates and benefits study Workers’ Comp Section monitors rates and benefits study Senior Editor A busy legislative session tracking a variety of bills has transformed into continued activity for the Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section as it monitors a new gubernatorial commission studying rates and benefits.The section had been monitoring several bills during the session, some of which would have cut injured workers’ benefits and the fees paid to lawyers. That could have made it hard for some to obtain attorneys. Instead, after major players were unable to reach an agreement, lawmakers passed a much milder bill, intended to improve reporting, speed settlements, and end some of the fraud associated with construction companies avoiding paying workers’ comp premiums.But any thoughts the section could relax over the summer before preparing for the 2003 legislative session ended May 22 when Gov. Jeb Bush created by executive order the Governor’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform. The commission has 13 members, each appointed by Bush who also chose the chair.Rafael Gonzalez, immediate past Workers’ Compensation Section chair and who is monitoring legislative issues for the section, said this commission is far different from another one Bush appointed a couple of years ago.“It’s almost unprecedented. This group does not contain the representative of any insurance company,” he said, noting the first panel had members mostly from large employers and insurance companies. “It is employers — some of them very large, some of them small, some of them contractors. It includes a judge of compensation claims, a couple representatives of state government, and it includes a couple of representatives of worker advocacy groups.” There are also two legislators.Gonzalez, who has followed workers’ compensation legislative battles for years, said it’s the first time he’s seen a workers’ comp judge included on such a panel. “That brings a nice new perspective on why things happen the way they do, legally,” he said.Of the commission’s first meeting, Gonzalez said, “I was super impressed. I think all of them had a good understanding of where workers’ comp is at today. The makeup of the commission is good in the sense it isn’t tilted one way or the other.”He has also asked the commission for time to present the section’s concerns at one of the next two upcoming meetings. The section has worries about attorneys’ fees, when attorneys get involved in cases, and the definition of permanent total disability — a subject that raised concerns in the legislature last year.Gonzalez noted that Gov. Bush cited some statistics in his order creating the commission, but that the commission at its first meeting seemed to get different data. “Maybe getting consistent statistics will be one of their homework assignments,” he said.According to the governor’s order, the panel is charged with:• Determining the availability and affordability of workers’ comp insurance in Florida compared to other states.• Finding the impediments to quick resolution of claims and statutory ways to speed those settlements.• Exploring what factors are driving up the cost of insurance and what laws can be passed to reduce the cost.• Ascertaining the adequacy of compensation for injured workers and any statutory changes needed to ensure that those workers are equitably compensated.• Reviewing the findings of a three-member panel created by the legislature to look at the availability and accessibility of medical treatment for injured workers, and the adequacy of the medical fee schedule.The resolution requires the commission to report to the governor, Senate president, and speaker of the House by January 31, 2003, and to go out of existence no later than July 1, 2003.Bush’s order notes that Florida has among the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country, but also among the lowest benefits for injured workers. It also referred to studies showing the state’s system fails to perform as well as those in other states.Named to the commission by Bush were:• Pete Carpenter, chair, of Jacksonville, former chief operating officer, CSX Transportation, Inc.• Claude Revels of Keystone Heights, corporate safety director, JM Family Enterprises, Inc.• Kathleen Davies of Miami, senior director of safety and risk management, Burger King Corporation.• Carlos Cantero, of Orlando, owner, C.D.S. Sitework and Trucking, Inc.• Derrick Wallace, of Orlando, president and chief executive officer of Construct Two; president of the Economic Development Commission in Orlando; Board of Directors, Florida Chamber of Commerce.• Judge Maria Ortiz of Miami, judge of compensation claims, District K.• Hayden Dempsey of Tallahassee, Executive Office of the Governor.• Kevin McCarty of Tallahassee, Department of Insurance.• Dwayne Sealey of Tallahassee, secretary-treasurer, Florida AFL-CIO.• Stuart Colling of Maitland, president of Florida Workers Advocates.• Michael Ozegovich of Key Largo, community services director; South Florida Carpenters Regional Council.• State Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.• Rep. Leslie Waters, R-Largo, chair of the House Insurance Committee.The commission next meets August 20 at the Orlando World Marriott during the Workers’ Compensation Institute. Following meetings are tentatively planned for September 24, October 22, November 19, and December 10, although no locations have been set.
“It’s one to look forward to. The two sets of fans are up there with some of the best in the world, so I am sure it will be a really special night.” It will be particularly special for Keogh if he is asked to partner John O’Shea at the heart of Martin O’Neill’s defence, and far from fearing the mission, he insists he would relish the chance to test himself against strikers he knows well. Keogh said: “It would be something I would really enjoy and really relish. I would relish the challenge of playing – that’s why you are in football, to play big games, and they don’t come much bigger than this. If I am called upon, then I will be ready, and not just me, but the whole group. “They [Scotland] have obviously got good players. [Steven] Fletcher is in good form and scoring goals, but obviously knowing Chris Martin and Jonny Russell from Derby, I know what threat they possess. “But it’s built up to be an exciting game and it should be a great atmosphere.” That atmosphere is something Ward has experienced once before, and he is looking forward to revisiting a stadium which holds a special place in the hearts of many of his compatriots. He said: “I have played there once, in a pre-season friendly. I think there were about 30,000 people there. It’s a very special place and I think any Irish person going there will tell you how special it is to them, so it’s a game we are all really looking forward to.” Richard Keogh is ready to answer his country’s call on Friday night with no regrets over his decision to declare for the Republic of Ireland. The Republic will meet Scotland in Glasgow at the end of a week which has seen a debate over players opting to represent countries other than that of their birth grow increasingly tetchy, with Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy both preparing to return to their native country in the green of Ireland. But 28-year-old Derby defender Keogh, who was born in the Essex town of Harlow, had no decision to make when his time came. He said: “For me, it was a no-brainer. My dad was born in Carlow and moved over to England when he was a bit older, but my nan and grandad lived there all their lives. “I played for the Under-19s and to me, the natural progression was to play for the Under-21s and hopefully the seniors. That was my aim, so for me it was a very proud moment when I got the call to play for Ireland – and it was the best decision I ever made.” Keogh could well line up against the Scots at Celtic Park with Stoke’s Marc Wilson having been ruled out through injury, and the atmosphere is certain to be intense with McGeady and McCarthy seemingly certain to be given a hostile reception. However, full-back Stephen Ward is convinced neither man will be affected if that proves to be the case. Ward said: “I don’t think they have really taken much notice of it. There are a lot of things said coming up to the games in the press, heat-of-the-moment stuff. “They are just training – obviously James is looking to get himself right and Aiden has just trained away. We tend to just concentrate on ourselves and get ready for the game in our own way. “I’m sure they have been booed before. Aiden has played in Old Firm games, James has played in derby games, so it will be nothing new to any player. “But it will be a special occasion, a special atmosphere and I am sure they will savour it as much as anyone else. Press Association
Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Ward said he doesn’t have a preference.“Any place that can get me in the lineup, I don’t mind, but left field isn’t bad,” he said.Ward also conceded that it’s good for him mentally to get some time away from third, where he had a rough time in spring training and during his brief big league exposure this year.“Anytime I get away from third and come back, it does feel easier,” he said. “I can just kind of relax and separate it a little bit.”The Angels created a spot for Ward by sending down José Suarez after he pitched on Sunday. They wanted to have an extra position player before playing a game in a National League park. Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros CHICAGO — Taylor Ward returned to the Angels on Monday and was in the starting lineup at third base, a position he hasn’t played much lately.Ward got a start at third at Triple-A on Saturday, but otherwise had only started in left field and at DH ever since he returned to Salt Lake after being with the Angels in early May in Mexico.Manager Brad Ausmus said the organization hasn’t necessarily shifted their preference for Ward’s potential role. He was a catcher until 2018, when he became a third baseman. While he still has room to improve at third, he’s added first base and left field this year.“I think they are trying to make him versatile, so he can play a number of positions, mostly left field and third,” Ausmus said Monday. Related Articles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOOKING WAY AHEADShohei Ohtani’s first time on the roster for a game in a National League park this year begged the question of what Ausmus would do with him if he was scheduled to pitch in an NL park next year.Ohtani obviously can’t DH, so they get the most use out of him if he’s pitching and hitting. The tough part is that once he comes out of the game as a pitcher, he is also out as a hitter, so that is a consideration when deciding where to put him in the batting order.“I haven’t thought about it because I don’t have to worry about it this year, but that’s a good question,” Ausmus said. “That’s something I’d have to think about.”FREQUENT FLIER STATUSThe Angels played in Chicago on Monday after playing on Sunday in Seattle. By the time they fly back home to Orange County on Tuesday, they will have traveled 3,462 miles, the third-most by a team in a three-day span in MLB history (when playing a game each day).ALSOThe Angels reinstated Michael Hermosillo from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A. In order to create a spot for Hermosillo on the 40-man roster, they designated right-hander John Curtiss for assignment.UP NEXTAngels (RHP Griffin Canning, 2-1, 3.06) vs. A’s (RHP Frankie Montas, 6-2, 2.81), 7 p.m., Fox Sports West Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter