Governor Chet Culver says he supports allowing workers to choose their doctor. Late last night a House committee endorsed a bill which would let workers designate a doctor of their choice for treatment of injuries they sustain on the job.
"I think it’s a fundamental fairness issue. I think it’s a right that Iowa workers should have," Culver says. "Most of us do — more than 80 percent of us can choose our own doctor, so I hope that we can fight for those who don’t have that choice."
It’s unclear whether there are 51 votes in the House to pass the bill. Another labor-related bill that would have required a prevailing wage be paid to those working on taxpayer-funded construction projects failed in the Iowa House last month by one vote — and Culver, a Democrat, tried to help round up that last vote among six Democrats who voted against that measure. The governor vows to talk with reluctant Democrats about this "choice of doctor" issue as well. "Like a lot of issues here at the capitol, I’m engaged and try to help where I can, so I’ll be talking to a few key legislators and trying to encourage them to vote for this," Culver says.
Culver calls the bill which emerged from the House Labor Committee last night a good compromise. "I’ve always said that we need to try to find common ground on some of these tough labor-management issues and whether it’s fair share, choice of doctor, prevailing wage or collective bargaining — I really think that we’re making a concerted effort to be pragmatic and practical about what, ultimately, gets to my desk," Culver says. "And I think this session we’ve really done a good job of having a fair balance between business interests and labor and workers interests."
Last year, Culver vetoed a bill which would have expanded the subjects which may be discussed when union workers in government agencies enter contract talks. Culver has been meeting with legislative leaders to try to craft a compromise on that proposal as well. "I’ve made it very clear including last year when I vetoed some legislation that that’s my goal — let’s try to meet in the middle here," Culver says.