Proposal to investigate workers? comp fraud

A new unit to investigate and prosecute workers? compensation fraud would be established under a proposal that gained Senate approval along party lines.

With most Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing, the Senate passed on a 28-22 vote Senate File 2305, which would create a Workers? Compensation Fraud Unit within the state insurance division. The proposal would make workers? compensation fraud a Class D felony, punishable by a sentence of up to five years and a fine between $750 and $7,500.

During debate that at times grew heated, Democrats said the proposal appears designed to dissuade injured workers from filing a claim for workers? compensation benefits for fear they should be investigated for fraud.

Democratic Sen. Nate Boulton spoke against the proposal.

?Make no mistake about it, this legislation has the potential to railroad a worker injured on the job into a felony sentence simply because he or she filed a claim,? said Sen. Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines who is a workers? compensation attorney. ?I think this is an insulting and incredibly unfair bill to Iowans who have the misfortune of suffering an injury on the job.?

Sen. Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, said the proposal is needed because Iowa is one of a handful of states without a unit dedicated specifically to investigating workers? compensation fraud. He pushed back at accusations the proposal unfairly targets workers.

?This has no impact on a fair worker who is claiming a legitimate injury,? Chapman said. ?It?s hard to believe that we can?t be united in combating fraud.?