Worker's Compensation Advisory Council

Council on Worker’s Compensation
Meeting Minutes
Clarion Suites
Madison, Wisconsin
May 11, 2006

Members present:  Ms. Bean, Mr. Beiriger, Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen, Ms. Connor, Mr. Furley, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Ms. McGraw, Mr. Newby, Mr. Olson, Mr. Shaver, and Ms. Vetter

Excused:  Mr. Kent


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 10:00 a.m. in accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. WCAC members, staff and members of the audience introduced themselves. Mr. Newby announced that Mr. Welnak retired and resigned from the WCAC.

  2. Minutes: Mr. Newby moved adoption of the minutes of the October 12, 2005 meeting; Mr. Buchen seconded the motion with the minutes to be amended to include a statement regarding the final approval of the agreed bill. The motion was unanimously approved.

    The minutes of the October 12, 2005 meeting are amended as follows: On July 29, 2005 the WCAC unanimously agreed to proposed language for an agreed upon bill to be forwarded to the legislature for introduction. At the October 12, 2005 meeting, the minutes of the July 29, 2005 meeting were unanimously approved as amended. The WCAC resolved the issues regarding the agreed upon bill that were discussed at the October 12, 2005 meeting. All the members individually contacted the chair by November 28, 2005 and informed her that the agreed bill as modified should be forwarded to the legislature for introduction.

  3. Public Comment: Mr. Chuck Carr addressed the WCAC and expressed concern that injured workers receiving permanent total disability benefits (PTD) for a number of years are not receiving benefit increases. While SB 474 increases benefits for an additional 160 injured workers receiving PTD, it falls short in addressing the problem. Mr. Carr that the WCAC address this issue and increase supplemental benefits for employees without delay and include a cost of living adjustment. Ms. Huntley-Cooper indicated that the WCAC PTD Committee will continue discussing this issue and work towards a resolution. Mr. Carr provided the council with a copy of his statement which will be made part of the record.

  4. Report on PEO Committee:  Mr. O’Malley indicated the first meeting was held on May 9, 2006 and the members were read the charge of the WCAC. The intent was to continue and build on prior discussions regarding PEOs (Professional Employer Organization) issues. The committee was working on redrafting some provisions in the department’s proposal from the last legislative session. Mr. O’Malley anticipated one more meeting of the committee to be scheduled within the next month. Following the meeting, a report will be provided to the WCAC including minority views.

    Mr. O’Malley explained that AB 1056 as amended includes general PEO and registration provisions. While the Office of Commissioner of Insurance has concerns, from the department’s viewpoint it is a registration bill with a significant impact on Chap. 102, Wis. Stats. The PEO Committee will address issues of proof of coverage and the insurance experience modification factor. Other state agencies may also have regulatory concerns. The WCAC members requested that Mr. O’Malley provide a brief written summary of AB 1056 and any impact on the worker’s compensation system.

  5. Other Committee Reports:  The Worker’s Compensation Division is in the process of organizing a committee to address issues arising out of the introduction of the logger’s bill. Rep. Jeffrey Mursau explained that he introduced the bill for the sole purpose of helping out the forestry industry in Wisconsin. Worker’s compensation insurance issues arise when there are bids for forestry work. Some employers are able to bid lower on jobs because they do not carry worker’s compensation insurance because they hire subcontractors. The Michigan Model and the Minnesota Model can provide some guidance on this issue. The bill was withdrawn to allow for input by all interested parties. Mr. Krueger indicated that the committee will focus on helping small logger operations and it is anticipated that they will meet monthly. Rep. Mursau will forward a list of people to Ms. Huntley-Cooper that he recommends be appointed to the committee.

    Mr. Conway reported that a department staff person will chair the Permanent Total Disability Committee. The staff person is currently evaluating the previous reports from the PTD Committee and is clarifying information concerning Social Security offset calculations. Ms. Huntley-Cooper will speak with prior members of the committee to determine if they desire to continue serving on the committee. The committee will need to decide threshold issues regarding indexing, limiting payment amounts or number of payments, limitations on benefit payments based on the age of the recipient, and how quickly existing PTD benefit recipients will be brought up to current benefit levels. The committee’s goal is to provide information to the WCAC including costs associated with increasing benefit levels. Mr. Newby stated that this issue was a priority for Labor, with the goal of figuring out a way to bring PTD benefit recipients up to current PTD benefit levels. Ms. Huntley-Cooper encouraged PTD benefit recipients to attend and speak at the committee meetings.

    Ms. Huntley-Cooper reported that she has appointed 14 individuals to the Health Care Committee. She received a total of 24 nominations from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association. Out of those nominations, 12 individuals were selected to serve on the committee along with two at-large members. The professional committee members must be licensed and practicing in Wisconsin. The department plans to survey the committee at its first meeting in late May/early June to cover goals and expectations. The proposed administrative rule on medical treatment guidelines will probably not be adopted until the end of the year. The committee members will initially have one-year appointments. There will be an opportunity for public input. Mr. Beiriger requested that the committee meeting minutes and notices be sent to the WCAC members. Mr. O’Malley explained that the process to promulgate an administrative rule takes a minimum of seven months. Due to the length of the rule, a new chapter of the administrative code will need to be created. If the committee agrees on changes to the proposed rule early in the process, their recommendations could be accommodated before the rule is adopted. Otherwise, changes to the proposed rule would need to be approved by the WCAC as formal amendments.

  6. Correspondence: Mr. Conway indicated that the department sent a letter to Rep. Mursau setting forth its plan to address logging industry issues.

    Mr. Carr’s e-mail and the department’s response were reviewed. The PTD Committee will address those issues.

    Attorney John Edmondson submitted an e-mail setting forth proposals from a few applicant attorneys to address payment of attorney’s fees in small cases, on penalty claims, on payment of medical expenses, and to designate attorneys as a party in interest when fees are awarded or denied to allow for appeal of department determinations. Mr. O’Malley indicated that approximately 5-7% of hearing applications are filed by unrepresented injured workers, usually involving small claims. The WCAC members invite Attorney Edmondson to give a short presentation (no more than 15 minutes) at the next meeting.

  7. Future meeting dates:  The WCAC tentatively scheduled the following future meeting dates: Wednesday, August 16, 2006, Thursday, October 12, 2006 and Wednesday, December 6, 2006. The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for December 6, 2006 at the Pyle Center on the UW Madison campus.

  8. Adjournment:  Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:30 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled for August 16, 2006