Worker's Compensation Advisory Council

Council on Worker's Compensation
Crowne Plaza
Madison, Wisconsin
November 12, 2009

Members present:   Mr. Beiriger,  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. Brand, and Mr. Redman

Staff present:   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 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 19, 2009 meeting were unanimously approved without correction.
  3. Correspondence: Mr. Conway reviewed Secretary Gassman's November 4, 2009 correspondence to the State Hygiene Lab informing them that the Department will continue funding the state match portion for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and Occupational Safety and Health Statistics programs for fiscal year 2010.  

    Mr. Conway reviewed the correspondence from Senator Risser wherein he expresses concern regarding the lack of a cost of living adjustment for recipients of permanent total disability (PTD) benefits.  Senator Risser encouraged the WCAC to increase PTD benefits.

  4. Reports:  Mr. Kent reported on the results of the requested WCD survey of injured workers receiving PTD benefits.  The survey asked questions concerning the extent to which PTD benefits meet economic needs, receipt of health insurance benefits and private pension benefits.  Over 750 surveys were mailed with 234 returned with responses.  The WCD did not have current addresses for 116 injured workers.  Injured workers had the option to call in with survey responses.  Mr. Conway listened to approximately 30 phone responses.  A summary document containing the results of the survey was provided to the WCAC members.   

    Mr. Newby reported that at the recent Worker's Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) briefing, the Oregon study comparing insurance premium rates for 2008 was discussed.  Wisconsin was ranked 35th in that survey.  Higher premium rates occur for manufacturing and farming.  However, the farming rate is dropping due to an increase in corporate farms.

    Mr. O'Malley reported that for 2010, the maximum wage for benefit purposes will be $1,222.50, resulting in a maximum temporary total and permanent total disability rate of $815 per week.  The average weekly wage is calculated by the Unemployment Insurance Division for the preceding June 30th.  The maximum average weekly wage for worker's compensation benefit purposes is calculated as 110% of the state's average weekly wage.

  5. Unfinished  Business:  The WCAC members went into closed caucus and upon return from caucus Mr. Newby reported that Labor and Management had reached an agreement on proposals to be included in the agreed bill as follows:
    • PTD supplemental benefits will increase to a maximum rate of $582 per week as outlined in the department's proposition #4 (for dates of injury prior to January 1, 2000);
    • Temporary total disability benefits will be suspended for injured workers convicted of a crime while incarcerated;
    • Statutory amendment to require the WCD to hold prehearing conferences in all cases where bad faith is claimed;
    • Eliminate hearing aid payments when an injured worker does not suffer a compensable occupational hearing loss for all dates of injury effective January 1, 2012;
    • Increase the maximum PPD rate by $10 per year for the next 2 years (2010 and 2011);
    • Increase the maximum burial expense reimbursement to $10,000 or the actual total expenses, whichever is less;
    • Volunteer emergency responders will be covered enroute from the time paged or called to the emergency unless the employee is involved in a deviation for a private or personal purpose;
    • Allow by administrative rule non-obstructive audio-recording of formal hearings by parties;
    • Department proposals 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20 are approved.

    The WCAC is committed to good faith efforts to resolve the medical cost issue between now and the next agreed bill cycle.  Mr. Buchen moved to adopt the aforementioned proposals for inclusion in the agreed bill and the motion was seconded by Mr. Newby.  The motion carried by unanimous vote of the WCAC.

  6. New Business:  None.

  7. Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 2:30 p.m.

    Future meeting dates:   To be determined
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