Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
      Council on Worker’s Compensation
      Meeting Minutes
      Madison, Wisconsin
      August 1, 2007

       

      Members present:   Ms. Bean, Mr. Beiriger, Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen, Mr. Furley, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr. Newby, Mr. Redman, Mr. Shaver, Ms. Vetter, Mr. Collingwood (for Mr. Schimke) and Ms. Connor (for Mr. Scott)

      Excused: Mr. Scott, Mr. Schimke, Mr. Olson

      Staff present:   Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms. Knutson, Mr. Topp 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. WCAC members, staff and members of the audience introduced themselves.
         
      2. Minutes: The minutes of the July 11, 2007 meeting were approved with a formatting correction. (The last paragraph of #4 was moved to the last paragraph of #3.)
         
      3. Reports: Ms. Huntley-Cooper reported the Health Care Provider Advisory Committee met on July 20th and reviewed the final draft of the Medical Treatment Guidelines (Wis. Admin. Code Chap. DWD 81). The Committee requested an opportunity to speak on plans to measure the effectiveness of the Medical Treatment Guidelines. Ms. Huntley-Cooper indicated that once the WCAC completed work on the agreed bill, Dr. Jurisic and Dr. Lischak will represent the Committee in providing a presentation to the WCAC. Mr. O’Malley indicated the current time line for the Medical Treatment Guidelines to be in effect is November 1st. The Guidelines are posted on the WCD website.

        Ms. Knutson reviewed the litigated case report. The number of cases pending in ready for hearing status is over 3200 with over 1500 cases currently scheduled for hearing. The median lag time for cases pending ready for hearing to the date the hearing notice is issued is around seven months. Hearing notices are being sent out approximately 11 weeks in advance of the hearing date.

        Ms. Huntley-Cooper reported that Mr. Newby met with Secretary Gassman, Deputy Secretary JoAnna Richard and herself on July 30th. Frances relayed the following statement from the Secretary: “Appreciate the interest and support of the Council to address the backlog. Important to provide assistance to injured workers in a timely fashion and the Department and Council both share that goal.

        Department and Staff have made great progress by:

          • Maintaining a full complement of ALJ’s;
          • Having an ALJ offer mediation services and clearing up cases;
          • Having an ALJ LTE who will help clear up older cases;
          • Instituting scheduling and staffing changes to help facilitate a smoother scheduling process
          • Establishment of certificate of readiness to ensure sounder and more certain hearing schedules.

        Department will continue to make progress and pledge that at each Council meeting, will provide a briefing on our progress to date.

        Department and Division of Workers Compensation leadership will carefully, and with stakeholder feedback, review Dale Cattanach’s report to address those recommendations and suggestions that merit implementation and do not disrupt the progress we have made, thus far. Only those items contained in Dale Cattanach’s report will be considered for any future scheduling changes.

        The Department will report to the Council in 6 months on our progress for the certification of readiness. Appreciate the feedback of stakeholders and have adopted modifications to the form and application which reflects the input.”
        Ms. Huntley-Cooper added that she wanted to ensure that her division staff continue to provide information to the council. Mr. Buchen commented that, for the record, he felt that the council was very satisfied with how the WCD administration and staff work with the council. His concern was regarding how the council is viewed by the Secretary’s Office.
         
      4. Correspondence: Mr. Conway reported on correspondence received from Mr. Chuck Carr. Mr. Carr referenced discussion included in the June 25, 2007 minutes regarding treating doctors’ interaction with insurance carriers.
         
      5. Review of Dale Cattanach’s Report: Ms. Huntley-Cooper indicated Deputy Secretary JoAnna Richard requested that the Department allow for further discussion of the report. The Department will try to allow for input and feedback from the stakeholders on the suggestions and recommendations in the report. No suggested changes or recommendations referenced in the report will be implemented before the next WCAC meeting in September. Dale Cattanach’s report will be included on the agenda for the next meeting. Mr. Kent inquired whether the Department considered cross-training Unemployment Division ALJs to hear WCD cases during high volume periods. Ms. Knutson indicated intensive and lengthy training was required for attorneys who were not experienced in worker’s compensation law.

        Mr. Newby indicated he expressed concern to Secretary Gassman in the July 30th meeting that DWD consult more with the WCAC. Labor would like to pause and evaluate the changes the WCD has already made and the status of the backlog before taking additional measures to change hearing procedures.

        There was motion by Mr. Newby, seconded by Mr. Buchen to strongly urge the Department not to make further administrative changes for six months to allow time to evaluate the impact of the changes already implemented. The motion carried unanimously.
         
      6. Labor/Management Proposals: Mr. Newby outlines Labor’s current proposal to Management:
        1. The Department would create a mean charge per CPT or DRG code based on data contained in the existing certified databases by zip-coded region, and would calculate 1.4 standard deviations as a maximum charge based on that data. The maximum charge would be adjusted annually based on the Medical Consumer Price Index. Further, a provider in a small-defined geographic region could not charge in subsequent years, more than the provider’s base year charge plus the Medical Consumer Price Index with a maximum allowable charge (1.4 standard deviations from the mean).

        2. Option 2 for increasing the maximum benefit for permanent total disability benefits to bring all existing PTD claims currently up to the 2001 benefit rate with payments to be adjusted annually according to the TTD rate. A six-year lag would be created for PTD benefit increases. For example, PTD claims with a date of injury in 2008 would not receive a benefit increase until 2014. For existing PTD claims, supplemental benefits would be paid by assessments to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund (WISBF) against insurers and self-insured employers. For increased benefits for PTD claims with dates of injury after the effective date of the bill, increased payments would be paid by the insurer or self-insured employer.

        3. Set the maximum permanent partial disability benefit rate at 34% of the temporary total disability benefit rate.

        4. Accept Management Proposal #3 modified to provide that the WISBF would pay for barred traumatic claims where the amputation or original joint replacement did not occur until after the statute of limitations had run.

        5. Accept Management proposal #5 concerning evidence in hearing loss claims.

        6. Accept part one of Management proposal #6 that provides an employee of a temporary help agency cannot bring a third party suit against an employee of a different temporary help agency if the same employer compensations both temporary help agencies.

         
      7.  New Business: None discussed.
         
      8. Unfinished Business: Ms. Knutson will provide the WCAC with a summary of WCAC action on Department proposals prior to the next meeting.
         
      9. Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:00 p.m.

        Future meeting dates are as follows:
        Thursday, September 6, 2007
        Monday, September 24, 2007
      10.