Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
    Council on Worker’s Compensation
    Meeting Minutes
    The Pyle Center
    Madison, Wisconsin
    December 6, 2006

     

    Members present:  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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

    5. 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.
    6. 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 including indexing.
    7. 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.
    8. Correspondence:  There is no new correspondence to review.

    9. 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.
    10. 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

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