Oklahoma-Founded Nonprofit Workers' Compensation Insurance Company CompSource Sale Still Hot Topic of Debate

Article excerpt

While House leaders continue to push for the sale of CompSource, the state-founded nonprofit workers' compensation insurance company, opposition to that sale is building.

In mid-February, the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee voted 9-4 to approve the sale of CompSource. The bill is awaiting action by the full House of Representatives.

State Rep. Dan Sullivan, who authored House Bill 2662 to authorize the sale of the company, said CompSource has expanded over the years and now has about 35 percent of the workers' compensation insurance market. Sullivan, R-Tulsa, said the company's status as a government operation - exempt from state and federal taxes - gives it an unfair advantage over private insurers.

"The question is, should the state of Oklahoma be involved in the insurance business," he said. "We know our workers' compensation system is broken, and we are currently working with all the interested parties to find an equitable solution that will work to rein in costs on Oklahoma businesses while ensuring workers have access to the medical care needed to get them back to work."

But while most lawmakers are generally supportive of the sale, over the past few weeks several groups - including CompSource itself - have issued media statements announcing opposition to any change in ownership.

"Selling CompSource would be detrimental to CompSource policyholders and Oklahoma's small businesses," said Jason Clark, CompSource's CEO. "Without CompSource, the state runs the risk that many small employers would be unable to obtain affordable workers' compensation coverage."

CompSource's existence, Clark said, offers a nonprofit option to Oklahoma businesses aside from commercial carriers that have a profit incentive.

"Having CompSource in the market with commercial carriers acts as a stabilizing force and ensures rates remain affordable for all businesses," Clark said. "CompSource as a guaranteed option for Oklahoma businesses is still necessary in today's insurance market. …