Insurance Information Institute Challenges Our Workers’ Comp Investigation. We Respond

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After John Coffell hurt his back at an Oklahoma tire plant last year, his wages dropped so dramatically that he and his family were evicted from their home. (Brett Deering/AP for ProPublica)

Last Thursday, the Insurance Information Institute sent ProPublica and NPR a letter challenging our investigation into workers’ compensation reform laws and the impact they’ve had on some workers.

The stories reported that since 2003, more than 30 states have cut benefits, created hurdles to getting medical care, or made it more difficult for injured workers to qualify. At the same time, we reported, employers are paying the lowest workers’ comp rates since the 1970s. And in 2013, insurance companies had their most profitable year in over a decade.

Robert P. Hartwig, president of the institute, wrote that the stories were based on “unsubstantiated assertions, incorrect interpretations and subsequent erroneous conclusions.”

He pointed to no specific errors, however, and demanded no corrections.

We’ve posted a summary of the institute’s letter here. This is our response:

1. “The very title of the ProPublica/NPR is at best misleading and at worst erroneous. ‘The Demolition of Workers Comp’ is hyperbole of the highest order. The fact of the matter is that workers’ compensation insurers today provide some $40 billion in benefits annually to hundreds of thousands of injured workers and to the families of those killed on the job…

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