A lawmaker in Montana has proposed a way to reduce the cost of state workers’ compensation insurance. He wants to prohibit illegal immigrants from collecting benefits when they’re injured.
Representative Gordon Vance (R – Bozeman) has sponsored House Bill 71, which would require workers’ compensation insurers to to create verification systems allowing them to determine whether or not injured employees are illegal immigrants, to ensure that no medical or wage-loss benefits are paid to undocumented workers. Exceptions would be made for immigrants who were lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of their injuries, were lawfully present for performing the duties that resulted in the work-related disease or injury, or were permanently residing in the United States under color of law at the time the work-related injury-causing services were performed.
House Bill 71, sponsored by Rep. Gordon Vance, R-Bozeman, would require a workers’ comp insurer to develop a verification process to determine if an injured employee is an illegal immigrant to ensure that no wage-loss or medical benefits for work-related injuries be paid to aliens. The exception, according to the bill text, is that benefits could be paid to an alien if he or she is an individual who was lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time the injury occurred, was lawfully present for the purposes of performing the services that resulted in the work-related injury or disease, or was permanently residing in the United States under color of law at the time the services that resulted in the work-related injury or disease were performed.
According to the Great Falls Tribune opponents of the bill feel that it could cause employers to purposefully hire illegal immigrants to get around paying workers’ comp, and that it could lead to lawsuits of whether or not the state has the right to determine who is or is not eligible for workers’ comp benefits, as well as lawsuits from injured parties who have no other way to be compensated for their work-related injuries.
At $3.33 per $100 of payroll (according to a summary conduced by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services), Montana has the highest workers’ compensation costs in the country.