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Report indicates federal oversight of workers' comp needed

The U.S. Department of Labor has urged that workers' compensation systems in Pennsylvania and around the country should be studied in order to determine if they need federal oversight. The call comes as a report shows that 33 states have cut benefits, leaving many injured workers in poverty.

According to the Department of Labor, state workers' compensation systems are failing to provide adequate benefits to injured workers. The agency's report follows a series published by NPR and ProPublica that highlighted the stories of workers who had been denied prosthetic devices or surgeries that their doctors had recommended.

In the last 10 years, many states across the nation have passed laws to reduce workers' compensation benefits, to make it more difficult for people to be approved for them and to discourage workers from applying. Federal intervention could help if states failed to meet standards that would be established. The insurance lobby and employers are arguing against federal intervention in workers' compensation programs, stating that the systems are the province of the states and have operated without federal oversight for more than 100 years.

Workers' compensation is meant to protect people who are injured on the job. In exchange for the availability of workers' compensation benefits, workers do not have the right to seek compensation through personal injury lawsuits against their employers. Injured workers may apply for benefits in order to be compensated for all of their medical expenses. If an employer or insurance company disputes or denies a claim, the injured worker might want to get help from a workers' compensation attorney at a subsequent hearing.

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