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Friday, April 18, 2008

Star-Ledger pieces stimulate legislative inquiry

New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system will be the subject of a special session of the State Senate Labor Committee on May 5, according to the office of Sen. Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex, and Passaic.

The system was the subject of a series of Star-Ledger articles that focused on the problems of the system, which oversees the disbursement of $1.8 billion in funds to injured public employees each year.

“It’s appropriate to take a close look at the workers’ compensation system to see whether it can be made more efficient,” said Sen. Sarlo, in a statement. “The recent media focus on the system gives us a chance to see if we can make it a better, fairer program so nobody falls through the cracks.”

The Star-Ledger series, called “Waiting in Pain,” used eight months’ worth of research to examine the system, gaining significant information through interviewing workers who ended up in court because of problems with the compensation system.

A total of around 117,000 open worker compensation cases were also reviewed for the study, which identified numerous problems, including significant delays, insurance bullying, and an ineffective court system.

The office of Sen. Sarlo recently received confirmation that David J. Socolow, New Jersey's Labor and Workforce Development commissioner, will be on hand at the May 5 hearing to answer any questions that were raised by the in-depth pieces published in the Star-Ledger recently.

The hearing is expected to be held at 1 p.m. on May 5 in Committee Room 10 in the State House Annex, according to state officials.

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