by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
It is clear the nation has mixed feelings towards our new president elect Donald Trump. Many things have been up in the air—Obamacare, immigration law, and the supreme court—but what does the future look like for workers’ compensation? For the most part, workers’ compensation will remain the same. That is because workers’ compensation is left to the states. The industry will see some shift, however.
Trump has talked the talk when it comes to healthcare moving forward into his presidency. Now, Americans know the future of Obamacare. As discussions have already begun to repeal Obamacare and Congress has voted for repeal, 200,000 Alabamians could lose access to healthcare. Healthcare and workers’ compensation go hand in hand though and employees may see an impact here. It is possible that healthcare coverage may be harder to receive. Trump alleges to have a replacement to Obamacare, but nothing is definitive yet.
Changes in worker safety laws through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may also permeate workers’ compensation. Trump has appointed Andy Puzder to head the U.S. Department of Labor. Puzder has opposed higher minimum wages and government regulation. He is a proponent of increased automation in the work-place because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, then never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”
Other appointments in the National Labor Relations Board may make some prevalent changes that could affect the industry as well. As of yet, there have been no appointments to the NLRB, but changes may be effectuated as a result of the choices he makes.
Immigration law has been a source of controversy for Trump, but the future is still unknown. In some states, like Alabama, undocumented workers are able to receive workers’ compensation, but that may not be the case come January 20th. In other states where undocumented workers do not receive workers’ compensation, a path for citizenship may mean the ability to now receive those benefits.
Trump’s promise to create more jobs also means that more employees may be entering the workforce which means more employees subject to the risks of the workplace and a potentially higher workers’ compensation premium for employers.
Trump takes office January 20 and changes are inevitable, but the workers’ compensation industry will not take the hardest hit. For those already receiving benefits and for those worried about the future of workers’ compensation benefits, there is no need to panic (yet)!
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced workers’ compensation law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.