Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
    Council on Worker’s Compensation
    Meeting Minutes
    Madison, Wisconsin
    July 11, 2007

     

    Members present:  Mr. Beiriger, Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen, Mr. Furley, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr. Newby, Mr. Olson, Mr. Redman, Mr. Schimke, and Ms. Vetter

    Excused: Ms. Bean, Mr. Shaver, Mr. Scott

    Staff present:   Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms. Knutson, and Mr. Krueger

    1. Call to Order/Introductions: Ms. Huntley-Cooper convened the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting at approximately 10:00 a.m. in accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. Ms. Huntley-Cooper introduced Ms. JoAnna Richard, DWD Deputy Secretary and WCAC members, staff and members of the audience introduced themselves.
       
    2. Minutes: The minutes of the June 25, 2007 meeting were approved without corrections.
       
    3. Certification of Readiness and Caseload Update:  Ms. Richard indicated that Mr. Dale Cattanach, former head of the Legislative Audit Bureau, was retained by the Department to review the hearing scheduling process in response to concerns by the Secretary and the Legislature surrounding the amount of time injured workers wait for a hearing. Ms. Richard distributed Mr. Cattanach’s report on the Worker’s Compensation Backlog. Mr. Cattanach interviewed WCD staff including administrative law judges, members of the WC Process Improvement Team, members of the Advisory Council, members of the WC Bar and other interested stakeholders. Mr. Cattanach recommended that the Department continue to implement the improvements in the hearing processes that were already in process. One of these improvements is the requirement that the applicant’s attorney file a Certification of Readiness before a case would be placed in ready status and in line for hearing to be scheduled. The Certification of Readiness process will be implemented on August 1, 2007. Other recommendations include reviewing the current postponement policy and accommodation of outside attorney schedules. For some outside attorneys, their availability is so reduced that it causes a problem for the scheduling staff. The department will be evaluating its policy to try and strike a balance between the attorneys’ need for some flexibility and the department’s scheduling needs. Secretary Gassman provides monthly reports to Governor Doyle and Senator Robson on the progress in reducing the backlog. While the Department is aware the WCAC requested that implementation of the Certification of Readiness be delayed, the Department needs to move forward with this administrative matter. Currently, cases are scheduled and the parties are not truly ready for hearing; applications for hearing are filed to hold a place in line for a hearing. Ms. Huntley-Cooper explained that the Department’s goal is to provide some predictability with respect to scheduling hearings, which will be accomplished through scheduling those cases that are certified as ready for hearing. In response to a request by the WCAC, Ms. Richard indicated that the Department would provide the background information on the hearings process that lead to the recommendations for administrative changes. The WCAC requested that Mr. Cattanach’s report be placed on the agenda for the next meeting and that WCD provide statistical information on the Certification of Readiness process six months after the implementation date.
       
    4. Report – WC Council Membership: Ms. Huntley-Cooper reviewed the statutory authority for the WCAC – Wis. Stat. §15.227(4). The statute only enumerates the insurance representatives as non-voting members. A quorum consists of the presence of a majority of the voting members. In typical councils, the chair votes to break a tie, but the WCAC through custom and tradition has acted on matters through unanimous agreement. The Labor and Management members discussed the role and authority of the WCAC.

      Ms. Knutson reported that the number of pending litigated cases and the waiting time for scheduling hearings continues to decrease.
       
    5. Correspondence: None discussed.
       
    6. Unfinished Business: None discussed.
       
    7. Labor/Management Proposals: The medical liaisons to the WCAC and the Management representatives discussed a proposal that would establish a medical fee schedule utilizing data combined from the existing certified databases to establish a baseline maximum payment amount for medical expenses by billing code and zip-code region. Thereafter, the maximum charge (1.4 standard deviations from the mean) would be increased each year based on the Medical Consumer Price Index. The medical liaisons emphasized that a fair baseline be developed that considered the geographic location of the individual medical provider. Management representatives expressed concern that a fee schedule result in cost savings and not result in providers raising prices to reach the 1.4 standard deviation price. Further discussion was tabled for the next meeting.

      Mr. O’Malley indicated that September 6, 2007 was the target date for introduction of the agreed bill. The WCAC agreed that the Department should forward the agreed-upon Department proposals and the Christian Science proposal to the Legislative Reference Bureau drafter to start preparing the bill draft.

       
    8. Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 2:30 p.m. 
       
    9.  

    Future meeting dates are as follows:

    Wednesday, August 1
    Thursday, September 6, 2007