Worker's Compensation Advisory Council
Council on Worker's Compensation
Crowne Plaza
Madison, Wisconsin
October 19, 2009

Members present:   Mr. Beiriger,  Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen, Mr. Collingwood, Ms. Connor, Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr. Newby, Ms. Nugent, Mr. Olson, Ms. Pehler,  Mr. Schwanda and Ms. Vetter 

Excused:   Mr. Redman


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 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 October 6, 2009 meeting were unanimously approved without correction.
  3. Correspondence: Mr. Conway reviewed correspondence from Mr. John Edmondson regarding insurance carriers' delay in providing a copy of an adverse medical or vocational report to the applicant.  Mr. O'Malley explained that currently Wis. Stat. sec. 102.13 (1)(b)4 provides that the employee has the right to receive a copy of the report 'immediately upon receipt of these reports by the employer or workers compensation insurer.  No penalty is provided in the statute if the carrier does not comply.  Mr. Newby requested that the WCD report on the number of problems or complaints with regard to delays in providing a copy of the reports to employees so that in the next agreed bill cycle, this issue can be addressed if necessary. 

    Mr. Conway reviewed the correspondence from Mr. Walter Stern regarding his suggestion to eliminate the use of certain reports or opinions in contested cases.  Mr. O'Malley will include Mr. Stern's suggested law changes on the public proposal list for the next agreed bill cycle

  4. Reports:  None.

  5. Unfinished  Business-Proposals:  The WCAC members went into closed caucus and upon return from caucus, Mr. Newby reported that Labor received Management's October 19, 2009 medical cost containment proposal.  Labor is not rejecting it out-of-hand; however, this different approach will require time to analyze its implications.  Labor suggests that a study committee be formed to analyze the cost of this new proposal along with the proposal currently under consideration.  If an agreement can be reached on a medical cost containment proposal before the next agreed bill cycle, Labor would be willing to consider a trailer bill.  Labor proposes that the items agreed upon at this time be submitted to the Legislature.  The proposed agreed bill includes all items in the tentative agreement set forth in the department's October 2009 summary plus raising supplemental benefits for injured workers receiving permanent total disability benefits (PTD) up to a six-year lag.  The Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund (WISBF) would pay the supplemental benefits until the WISBF reserves drop to an established minimum level; at that point the carriers would pick up the cost through an assessment.  In addition, Labor proposes that PTD benefits would be indexed going forward with the carriers paying the cost.  

    Mr. Buchen responded on behalf of Management, indicating Management's proposal to increase PTD supplemental benefits would raise the benefit rate by five years.  This additional amount of supplemental benefits could be paid by the WISBF.  The remainder of the PTD benefit increases would be considered when an agreement is reached on health cost containment.  Mr. Newby responded that the benefit levels for PTD have become totally inadequate.  The WCAC has discussed this issue for the last six years.  It is time to resolve this problem.  Labor has shown good faith throughout the health cost containment discussion.   

    The WCAC members discussed a subsidiary agreement.  Management indicated they would consider Labor's proposal.  The WCAC members went into closed caucus and upon return from caucus, Mr. Beiriger reported on behalf of Management that their current proposal includes the items agreed upon at the June 5, 2009 meeting.  This includes increasing PTD supplemental benefit rates by five years.  However, Management is withdrawing its proposal on payment of prosthetic devices for barred non-traumatic injuries.  Management would agree to a study committee on the issue of health cost containment.  Management agrees to the amendment that covers firefighters from the time of being called to the location of the fire or emergency and return, except for deviations for private or personal purposes.  The WCAC needs to decide whether it will continue to work on having an agreement on health cost containment in time to submit a trailer bill or to try and address as many issues as possible for inclusion in this agreed bill cycle.  Labor was not expecting Management's response on the prosthetic device issue for barred traumatic injuries and would like to consider it further.  In addition, increasing supplemental benefits for PTD recipients by five years is not enough of an increase.

  6. New Business:  None.

  7. Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 5:45 p.m.

  8. Future meeting dates:   November 12, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza

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