Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
      Council on Worker’s Compensation
      Meeting Minutes
      Madison, Wisconsin
      September 6, 2007

       

      Members present:   Ms. Bean, Mr. Beiriger, , Mr. Furley, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr. Newby, Mr. Olson, Mr. Redman, Mr. Shaver, Ms. Vetter, Mr. Schimke and  Mr. Scott

      Excused: Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen

      Staff present:   Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms. Knutson, Mr. Aiello 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 August 1, 2007 meeting were approved without correction.
         
      3. Reports: Ms. Huntley-Cooper reported the Certification of Readiness (COR) process was implemented August 1, 2007. In August, 11 hearing applications were filed with the completed COR form attached. Those cases have been given scheduling priority. The WCD is in the process of identifying benchmarks for evaluating the COR process. Mr. O’Malley indicated 3,960 hearing applications had been filed through August 2007. The monthly trend is lower than in prior years; however, in the fall the number of hearing applications filed usually increases.

        Ms. Knutson reviewed the litigated case report. The number of cases pending in ready for hearing status has dropped to 3080 with over 1270 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 9 weeks in advance of the hearing date. The notice time has decreased due to staff vacations.

        Mr. Conway provided information regarding the State of Pennsylvania’s Certified Workplace Safety Committee Program. Worker’s compensation premiums were reduced 5% for employers who have a safety committee and complete training requirements. The WCD will arrange for a presentation on MATC’s training program at a future WCAC meeting.
         
      4. Correspondence: Mr. Conway reported on correspondence received from the State Bar Association concerning the amount of attorney’s fees recoverable in worker’s compensation cases.

        The Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Medical Society submitted correspondence signed by providers from around the state expressing concern over a proposed medical fee schedule.
         
      5. Review of Dale Cattanach’s Report: There was nothing to report; however, this item will be kept on the agenda for the next meeting.
         
      6. New Business: None discussed.
         
      7. Review of Department Proposals:  Mr. Krueger explained new Department proposals # 13 and 14 concerning assessment of penalties and issuance of warrants and liens. Under Wis. Stats. Chap. 893, a lien remains in effect 10 years unless another law supersedes the 10 year limitation. The Department proposes language that would keep the lien in effect until it is paid. This would also apply to personal liability against corporate officers and members of limited liability corporations. If the warrant (lien) expires and the Department is required to issue a new warrant (lien), the previous priority for collection would not apply.

        Mr. O’Malley reviewed Department proposals #2 (relating to distribution of third party proceeds applying to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund (WISBF); #5 (relating to the evidence used to establish financial support to persons claiming partial dependency); #9 and 10 (relating to the application of the exclusive remedy and penalties applying to the Uninsured Employer’s Fund and its third party administrator); and #11 and 12 (relating to changing the time that surcharges are due to 30 days rather than 90 days). Labor is continuing to review these proposals. Management is in agreement with Department proposals #2 , 5, 13 and 14; and they have proposed their own amendments regarding application of the exclusive remedy. Mr. Shaver indicated that regarding Department proposals #11 and #12, carriers and self-insured employers need adequate time to question the surcharges.

        Labor and Management expressed concern with the Department introducing new proposals late in the agreed bill process.
          
         
      8. Labor/Management Proposals: Mr. Newby indicated that both sides are concentrating on the issues of increasing permanent total disability benefits (PTD) and Management’s proposal for implementing a medical fee schedule. Labor’s position is there must be a permanent solution to increasing PTD benefits. Labor suggests that its proposal on PTD and a fee schedule proposal have a 4-year sunset provision. Mr. Beiriger responded that while rates are decreasing and total costs per claim are low in Wisconsin compared to other states, medical costs per procedure are high and need to be addressed. The medical fee schedule proposals that have been considered preserve disparity in medical payments per procedure for worker’s compensation claims versus non-work injuries. The WCAC’s past actions have resulted in the continuing low PTD benefit rates for older claims. Management remains optimistic that the two issues can be resolved. Management will prepare a medical fee schedule proposal in writing to use as a discussion point for the next meeting.
         
         
      9. Unfinished Business: None discussed.
         
      10. Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:45 p.m.

        Future meeting dates are as follows:
        Monday, September 24, 2007
      11.