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Compensation Advisory Council
Council on Worker’s Compensation
September 11, 2008
Members present: Mr. Buchen, Mr. Collingwood, Ms. Connor
(for Mr. Scott), Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr. Newby, Ms. Nugent, Mr. Olson,
Ms. Pehler, Mr. Redman, Mr. Schwanda, Ms. Vetter
Excused: Mr. Beiriger, Mr. Brand
Staff present: Mr. Aiello, Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms.
Knutson, Mr. Krueger and Mr. Shorey
- Call to Order/Introductions: Ms. Huntley-Cooper convened the
Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting at approximately 9:30
a.m. in accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. WCAC members, staff
and members of the audience introduced themselves. Ms. Huntley-Cooper
introduced the new WCAC appointees effective July 1, 2008 as follows: Ms.
Mary Nugent and Ms. Christine Pehler as management representatives and Mr.
Brad Schwanda as a labor representative.
- Minutes: The minutes of the January 11, 2007 meeting were
approved without correction.
- DWD Secretary Comments: Secretary Roberta Gassman welcomed the
WCAC. The Wisconsin WC program is a model to the United States and the
world. The WCAC and the agreed bill process have an important role in the WC
program. Current issues being addressed at the DWD include growing a strong
economy with access to skilled workers whether related to manufacturing,
natural resources or research; regulatory reform with respect to support of
the environment; and access to venture capital. One of the major issues is
employment and training and updating the Job Service System to make it more
efficient in providing needed services. Goals include growing the state
apprenticeship program, opportunity grants for training at technical
colleges, the job skills jumpstart program and career pathways for workers.
The state is working on manufacturing skills standards for a certification
program that will be the first in the country. Mr. Newby inquired if the
Governor has provided budget instructions to the department and how the WC
program will be affected by any budget reductions. Sec. Gassman replied that
the Governor requested that all agencies not increase general purpose
revenue (GPR) spending and to balance the budget with increased
efficiencies. DWD will submit its budget proposal to the Department of
Administration in the near future. The importance of the WC program is
recognized by DWD and the Governor’s Office.
- Orientation presentations: Mr. Krueger provided a brief history
of Wisconsin worker’s compensation law. The Worker’s Compensation Division (WCD)
Bureau Directors then provided an overview of the functions of their
respective bureaus. Mr. Krueger provided an overview of the Bureau of
Insurance Programs including: penalty collections from uninsured employers
and closure orders, the Worker’s Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB), the
Uninsured Employer’s Fund, and the Self-Insured Employer’s Council. He noted
that in Wisconsin, there are over 600 classifications of employment for
premium purposes. The new premium rates were set October 1st resulting in a
2.91% rate increase, with an average rate of $2.21 per $100 of payroll.
Wisconsin is ranked 35th in the nation with regard to premium rates.
Mr. Aiello provided an overview regarding the function of the Bureau of
Claims Management including insurer/self-insured employer performance
tracking, training, monitoring/calculation of average weekly wage and
benefit computations. He noted that 80% of first benefit payments are made
within 14 days in Wisconsin. Performance by carriers in this regard is one
of the best in the country.
Mr. O’Malley covered the function of the Bureau of Legal Services. He
discussed the bureau’s role in resolution of contested cases and health cost
disputes on necessity of treatment and reasonableness of fees. Mr. O’Malley
noted that Wisconsin has a low litigation rate compared to other states.
This is due to stability of our law as a result of the WCAC agreed bill
process, WCD monitoring of claims and prompt payment of benefits.
Ms. Huntley-Cooper discussed the role of the WCAC. Mr. Conway provided a
handout of the WC claim flow. The WCAC members watched the WCD hearings
training video entitled “It Happened One Friday Afternoon”.
- Certificate of Readiness (COR): Mr. Shorey explained that the
COR process was implemented August 1, 2007. At that time, the contested
caseload was high and injured workers were waiting in excess of a year for a
hearing. Previously, a joint certification of readiness form was developed
that the parties could voluntarily use to expedite scheduling of ready
cases. Prior to the COR process, the WCD decided if a case was ready to be
heard based on some basic criteria. Through the COR process, cases are
placed in ready status and scheduled for hearing based on the date the
completed COR is filed. The ready caseload and wait time for a hearing have
dropped significantly. Cases are scheduled more efficiently and quickly. WCD
staff will provide training for attorneys and their staff in October. The
WCD is also developing a computer-assisted scheduling program to more
efficiently schedule cases based case review by staff and data entered in
the Integrated Claims Monitoring System (ICMS). Ms. Huntley-Cooper indicated
that prior to the COR process, she received frequent telephone calls from
injured workers and elected officials concerned about the wait time for
hearings. While the WCD experienced resistance initially, staff entertained
concerns and made some modifications to the process. Mr. O’Malley explained
that the way the process is set up the employee’s attorney has more control
over when a case will be scheduled for hearing. While some cases require
more time, most cases are scheduled for hearing within three to four months
after the completed COR is filed. for postponements because cases
are not ready to proceed have decreased.
- CompScope Medical Cost Report: Mr. Conway indicated the
Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) prepares the CompScope
Medical Cost Report. The WCD will seek permission from WCRI to provide the
report to the WCAC. The CompScope Committee meets in March 2009.
- Summary Analysis of last “Agreed Bill” Cycle: Mr. O’Malley
covered the Plain Language Summary of the last agreed bill statutory
- Timeline & Meetings new “Agreed Bill” Cycle: Ms. Huntley-Cooper
requested that the WCAC members forward their unavailability dates so that
meeting dates for next year can be finalized. The public hearing will be
scheduled in early December at the Pyle Center on the UW Madison campus. The
public hearing will be conducted via videoconference as in past years. Mr.
Newby suggested that the instructor of the general safety program at the
Milwaukee Area Technical College be invited to appear at a WCAC meeting to
discuss the program.
- New Business (100th Anniversary Planning): Ms. Huntley-Cooper
indicated the WCD has applied for a postage stamp commemorating the 100th
anniversary of the Wisconsin WC program. The International Association of
Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) 2011 convention will be
held in Wisconsin. Mr. Conway will chair the planning committee for the
Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and
the meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Future meeting dates and the public hearing date to be determined at