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

      1. 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.
         
      2. Minutes: The minutes of the January 11, 2007 meeting were approved without correction.
         
      3. 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.
         
      4. 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”.
         
      5. 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.
         
      6. 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.
         
      7. Summary Analysis of last “Agreed Bill” Cycle: Mr. O’Malley covered the Plain Language Summary of the last agreed bill statutory changes.
         
      8. 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.
         
      9. 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 event.
         
      10. 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