Increases in federal workers' comp pass House committee

Wednesday - 7/13/2011, 5:44pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

A bill to modernize the federal workers' compensation program unanimously passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce today.

The proposed legislation increases maximum awards currently set in the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Under the new bill, payments for funeral expenses would increase from $800 to $6,000 and payments for a disfigurement in the face, head or neck would increase from $3,400 to $50,000.

According to the National Treasury Employees Union, these benefits had not increased since 1949.

"We can no longer afford to leave government programs on autopilot," said Committee Chairman and bill sponsor Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) "I appreciate the bipartisan work of my colleagues, and look forward to building upon today's effort to further strengthen this program."

Kline's bill also extends the categories of health care professionals who can treat disabled employees under FECA to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners. This would be an "important gain" for feds in rural areas and war zones, said Colleen Kelley, president of NTEU, in a statement.

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