Website - Division of Worker's Compensation
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Compensation Advisory Council
Council on Worker’s Compensation
The Pyle Center
December 6, 2006
Ms. Bean, Mr. Beiriger, Mr.
Brand, Mr. Buchen, Mr. Furley, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr.
Olson, Mr. Redman, Mr. Scott, Mr. Schimke, Mr. Shaver and Ms. Vetter
Excused: Mr. Newby
Staff present: Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms. Knutson, and Mr. Krueger
- Call to Order/Introductions: Ms. Huntley-Cooper convened the
Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting at 11:00 a.m. in
accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. WCAC members, staff and
members of the audience introduced themselves.
- Minutes: Ms. Vetter moved adoption of the minutes of the
October 12, 2006 meeting and Mr. Brand seconded the motion. The motion was
unanimously approved and the minutes were adopted.
- UW Hygiene Lab Report: Mr. Ronald Laessig, PhD, provided
information on the consolidation of the Department of Commerce Safety
Consultation program, the OSHA Health Consultation Program and the OSHA/Bureau
of Labor Statistics data program and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of
Hygiene into the Workforce Safety and Health Program at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. The OSHA/BLS data program was administered by the
Worker’s Compensation Division until 2005, when it was moved to the
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene at UW Madison. Dr. Laessig provided a
brochure to the WCAC on “Occupational Injuries, Illnesses & Fatalities for
Calendar Year 2005” containing data on occupational injuries which is useful
in making decisions involving Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation law. Dr.
Laessig also explained a propeller diagram illustrating the
interrelationship of the four components to the Workforce Safety and Health
Program (WSLP). One of the goals of WSLP is to gather and analyze
epidemiological data, specifically involving analysis of accident and health
data and to provide that data to the WCAC. Dr. Laessig thanked the WCAC for
their support in consolidation of the OSHA programs. He is retiring but will
retain professor emeritus status at UW Madison.
Health Care Providers Advisory Committee Report (DWD 81): Ms.
Huntley-Cooper reported that the committee had reviewed and discussed the
Treatment Guidelines during the six meeting held in the last year. Mr.
O’Malley stated that he incorporated the committee’s proposed technical
changes to the draft of the proposed administrative rule (Chapter 81). Most
of the changes proposed by the committee involve updating medical
terminology as the Minnesota Guidelines were enacted in 1995. Mr. O’Malley
explained the proposed rules must be filed with the legislature after
January 1, 2007 with the likely effective date of July or August 2007. After
much discussion, there was a motion by Mr. Buchen, seconded by Mr. Kent,
that the WCAC adopt the proposed amendments to the Treatment Guidelines for
the purpose of proceeding to a public hearing. Following the public hearing,
the matter will be brought back to the WCAC for final approval. The motion
was unanimously approved.
Professional Employer Organization Committee Report: Mr. O’Malley
reported that at the October meeting, the PEO committee reviewed a draft of
proposed language changes. The committee received input from the
stakeholders and incorporated all of the proposals with the exception of two
for which there was not full consensus. The two items on which there was no
consensus are: definition of PEO as the employer and a hybrid-master policy
for insuring PEOs. Proof of coverage and experience rating were the issues
of primary importance to the WCD. Mr. Tom Dettmer spoke in support of having
an exception in the statute to deal with small clients to have them all
combined and covered by a master policy if specific criteria were met. No
insurance company has guaranteed they will issue a policy under this
proposed provision. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) and
the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) have not yet agreed to the
exception proposed by Mr. Detmer. Small employers do not carry an
experience rating with them. Mr. Krueger explained the threshold payroll
amount for experience rating is set by the WCRB and changed yearly. Mr. Todd
Cohn spoke in support of adding a definition of employer to the proposed
statutory changes. Mr. Fred Nepple, Chief Counsel with OCI urged the WCAC
not to adopt a definition of employer to specifically include PEOs due to
collateral effects on other insurance (non-worker’s compensation) issues,
including self-funded health benefit plans. Mr. O’Malley explained that the
WCD interprets the PEO as the employer under current law for purposes of
administering Chapter 102 only. Section 102.04 Wis. Stats. was amended in
1994 to specify temporary help agencies (including PEOs) as the employer to
reduce litigation. It has been the WCD’s longstanding, consistent position
that the temporary help agency is the liable entity for worker’s
compensation benefits. Attorney Paul Riegel, on behalf of the WCRB, stated
there was no need to add a definition of employer to the current statute.
The WCRB agrees with OCI on this issue and they have worked together on
language for a master policy exception due to increased costs to small
employers for multiple coordinated policies. The WCAC approved the WCD’s
proposed language with the master policy addendum.
Permanent Total Disability Committee Report: Ms. Knutson reported
the committee proposed that the WCAC add an additional three years on to
supplemental benefits so that PTD injured workers with dates of injury prior
to January 1, 1990 would receive PTD benefits at the 1990 benefit rate. The
committee has requested the WCD provide additional data for analysis for the
next meeting set for January 23, 2007. The committee is also considering
internal savings in analyzing the feasibility of further benefit increases
Other Committee Reports: Mr. O’Malley reported the Attorney
Fee Committee has not yet met. Mr. O’Malley provided resource materials to
ALJ Thurow including an IAIABC survey conducted a year or so ago. It is
anticipated that the committee will meet early in 2007.
Mr. Conway reported on the Loggers Committee. Worker’s compensation premiums
for loggers are high. The committee is reviewing programs in other states.
Minnesota has a special program payment made by purchasers of the product
(i.e. a per cord subsidy). The committee is also considering a proposal for
a mechanized loggers class and a manual loggers class. The WCRB is reviewing
one year’s data. The first reports are being generated off the current
policy year. The WCRB is reviewing the data to determine if it would be able
to develop a rate for the new loggers classes. There is a proposal by some
of the committee members for group self-insurance. There are issues of
capitalization, excess coverage, stop-gap coverage and high risk with this
proposal. There committee is also considering the issue of safety training
with the goal of reducing accident/injury frequency, with a premium discount
for participation in a certified training program.
Correspondence: There is no new correspondence to review.
New Business: Mr. Shaver inquired whether DWD was adopting a
double booking system for scheduling litigated cases. Ms. Huntley-Cooper
responded that the issue of double-booking hearings was discussed at the WC
PIT team meetings. Double-booking has been opposed by individuals. Mr. Lee
Shorey is working with the hearings unit in analyzing areas for more
efficiency in scheduling. The department has not provided direction at this
time to adopt a schedule of double or triple booking hearings. DWD has been
looking at adding staff and hearing locations to assist in addressing the
issue of delays in scheduling hearings. Secretary Gassman is willing to
entertain conversations with people who have ideas on how to address the
hearing backlog. Mr. Buchen indicating that in addressing the hearing
backlog issue requires a careful analysis of a wide variety of issues.
Changes in the worker’s compensation system should be brought to the WCAC.
Mr. Shaver indicated that the WC PIT Team analyzed the issue of the hearing
backlog and arrived at solutions including increasing dedicated hearing
space, filling positions and redeveloping forms. Mr. O’Malley reported that
the WCD is now fully staffed with 23 full-time ALJs. On January 1, 2007 the
newest ALJ will be ready to hold hearings. Ms. Huntley-Cooper indicated that
the WCD is reviewing how we define when cases are ready for hearing and the
possibility of developing a joint certificate of readiness. Mr. Shaver
indicated there were problems with double-booking. Employers and insurers
did not want to pay attorneys twice for preparing for and attending
hearings. Mr. Buchen emphasized that the WCAC needs to be supported by the
Secretary. The WCAC requested that if the Secretary has proposals to change
the WC system, she should present them to the WCAC. Ms. Huntley-Cooper
reiterated that the Secretary was willing to meet with groups of individuals
on this issue.
Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda
items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:15 p.m.
Future meeting dates are as follows:
Thursday, February 1, 2007 – department proposals presented;
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 – exchange of labor/management proposals;
Thursday, April 5, 2007;
Thursday, May 3, 2007;
Thursday, May 17, 2007;
Thursday May 31, 2007;
Target date for agreed bill is June 1, 2007