Website - Division of Worker's Compensation
Email - WC
Council on Workers' Compensation
April 27, 2015
Members present: Mr. Beiriger, Ms. Bloomingdale, Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen,
Mr. Ginsburg, Ms. Johnson, Mr. Kent, Mr. Metcalf, Ms. Nugent, Mr. Redman, Mr. Schwanda Ms. Seiler, and Ms. Thomas
Staff present: Mr. Aiello, Ms. Arnold, Mr. Ezalarab, Mr. Krueger, Ms.
Lake, Mr. Moreth and Mr. O'Malley
- Call to Order/Introductions:
Mr. Metcalf 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
Approval of minutes: Mr. Beiriger moved to approve the minutes
of the March 10. 2015 meeting. Ms Bloomingdale seconded the motion. The
minutes were unanimously approved without correction.
Mr. O'Malley reviewed correspondence to the Council received since
the last meeting.
A letter dated March 23, 2015 was received from Mr.
Stephen Schneider, American Insurance Association; Mr.
Mark Johnston, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; Mr. Jeff
Junkas, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America; and Mr. Andy
Franken, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance. They previously sent a letter to the
Council dated December 23, 2014 proposing the adoption of a medical fee
schedule with reimbursement levels based on a percentage of Medicare rates
and the adoption of a pharmacy fee schedule for repackaged drugs dispensed
directly by physicians to injured workers. In the current letter they wished
to expand their prior proposal related to repackaged drugs based on a law
that was recently adopted in Indiana that provides a medical provider may
not be reimbursed for more than one (1) office visit for each repackaged
drug and the maximum period during which a medical provider, that is not a
pharmacy may receive reimbursement for a repackaged drugs, begins on the
date of the injury and ends at the beginning of the eight day after the date
letter dated March 27, 2015 was received from Attorney William Sachse Jr.,
containing four (4) proposals. The first is to repeal s. 102.13(2)(c), Wis.
Stats., and s. DWD 80.02(2)(e)4 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code which
require final medical reports from treating doctors. The second proposal is
to cap the cost of final medical reports to $50.00. Third, to clarify that a
final medical report can include the note of an office visit, and a release
to work without restrictions would be proof of no permanent disability.
Fourth, Mr. Sachse urged the Council to oppose the changes to the WC program
contained in the Governor's budget bill and requested this proposal be
returned to the Council for its consideration as part of its agreed upon
A letter dated April 2, 2015 was
received from Ms. Holly Adams, Human Resources Director, Server Products,
Inc. Ms. Adams proposed that the cost of treatment be controlled, that the
minimum code ratings for permanent disability be eliminated, and that better
controls be placed on repackaged medications.
An email message from Mr. Tim Thorsen of
Spine Sport dated April 4, 2015 was received that proposed better tracking
of data and analytics for every work injury case in the state, to better
understand the care, functional limitations, and work status of those cases;
and to use qualified providers to determine time off from work and return to
work restrictions, to save the cost and delay of getting a physician's
signature. A qualified provider would be defined as an orthopedic specialist
in physical therapy who is trained in basic ergonomics.
A letter dated April 15, 2015 from Ms.
Shannon Nienast, General Manager, Wisconsin Homes, Inc., proposed that
Wisconsin adopt a fee schedule, decrease the statute of limitations from 12
years to 6 years or less, and allow Wisconsin employers to direct the
medical care of injured workers.
Mr. Scott Manley, Vice President of
Government Relations, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce sent a letter dated
April 27, 2015 containing proposed law changes.
1.) Create a higher standard for
compensability to "substantial" or "major contributing" cause in
aggravations of preexisting conditions. 2.) Where a work-related injury is
superimposed on a pre-existing condition the employee should be entitled to
full compensation while the condition is acute and after the condition has
stabilized the employee should only be compensated for permanent disability
attributable to the work-injury. 3.) Reduce the statute of limitations to 3
years. 4.) Remove the minimum administrative code ratings for permanent
partial disability (PPD). 5.) Use actual earnings to set the disability
rates. 6.) Permanent Total Disability
(PTD) benefits should cease once the individual reaches full social security
retirement age. 7.) Require injured workers to sign all releases necessary
for the employer and insurer to investigate the claim. 8.) Provide at least
60 days' notice of hearings, and require that medical expenses be filed 60
days before hearing. 9.) Eliminate injury claims for workers who are injured
while voluntarily using their company's fitness centers. 10.) Eliminate
death benefits for workers who are receiving PTD benefits when the death is
not related to the injury. 11.) Deny benefits when the worker is intoxicated
at the time of injury if the employer has a written drug testing program.
12.) Reduce benefits by 50 percent when an employee was violating any
federal or state law at the time of injury. 13.) Deny disability benefits to
workers on light duty if they are discharged for legitimate reasons and
could have been discharged for the same reasons if there had been no injury;
and treat employees who refuse to return to work during the healing period
on light duty to be deemed to have quit. 14.) Allow employers to contest
vocational rehabilitation training claims based on necessity, duration, or
appropriateness of the rehabilitation plan. 15.) Eliminate the certificate
of readiness process and replace it with a scheduling conference with the
ALJ. 16.) Bar claims for secondary injuries resulting from purely personal
Mr. O'Malley explained there is currently a proposed
bill, LRB-0624/2, being circulated, but not yet introduced in the
legislature that would give employees a civil cause of action in circuit
court against employers and co-employees if they are subjected to a hostile
or abusive work environment. A copy of the proposed bill was distributed at
the meeting. The proposed bill covers physical and mental harm. The proposed
bill would create an exception to the exclusive remedy provision in s.102.03
(2), Wis. Stats. The proposed bill allows for affirmative defenses and a
statute of limitations of one year after the last prohibited act. The
remedies available to the employee include enjoining an employer or an
employee from engaging in certain activities, removal of a person who
engaged in abusive conduct from the employee's work area, reinstatement,
medical expenses, back pay, front pay, damages for pain and suffering,
punitive damages, compensation for emotional distress, and reasonable costs
and attorney fees. The employer will be responsible to pay any award
assessed against a co-employee. A self-insured employer, worker's
compensation insurer and the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) would be
reimbursed for compensation and medical expense payments made for the same
incident out of the award.
- Budget Bill:
The members of the Council requested BJ Dernbach at an earlier
meeting to provide information on how other states are organized for WC purposes
and he provided a handout titled
"Workforce Programs in State Workforce Agencies."
Mr. Dernbach went over the
errata to the budget bill, which includes taking electronic recordings
of hearings out of the bill; keep the current system for approving
compromise agreements between DOA and OCI; give the Council authority to
advise DOA; add in a budget fix for supplies and services; and to correct
each instance where either "office" or "division" or both should appear. A
copy of the errata was distributed
at the meeting.
A press release Guest Column: Worker's Compensation
Proposal Represents Common-Sense Reform by DWD Secretary Reggie Newson and Wisconsin
Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel, and
Reforming Government Worker's Compensation FAQ from the DWD
Secretary's Office were distributed at the meeting.
- Other Council Business:
There was no other council business
- Adjournment: .
Mr. Beiriger moved to go into closed caucus, and to subsequently
adjourn from caucus. Ms. Bloomingdale seconded the motion. The motion was
approved unanimously and the members went into caucus at 10:45 a.m.
All members of the Council will not be available on May 28, 2015,
the date of the next scheduled meeting. May
27, 2015 was set as the next meeting date, when all the members would be
available. This meeting date is in lieu of the previously scheduled meeting date
on May 28, 2015. At approximately 2:45 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.