WORKER’S COMPENSATION UPDATE
Worker’s Compensation in Wisconsin has historically been governed by an appointed board, the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC). The WCAC is comprised of 5 members representing management and 5 members representing organized labor. Additionally, there are four appointed liaisons from healthcare and three from insurance. The WCAC members consider and negotiate reform proposals each legislative session and forward those reforms as a legislative bill to lawmakers in the Capitol, who generally take the “agreed bill” of the WCAC and enact the proposal into law.
On April 27, WMC sent a memo to the WCAC outlining a number of reform ideas that we gathered from member companies. The focus of the memo and of the reforms were for the most part on the indemnity side of the worker’s compensation cost equation – things like lowering the statute of limitations for worker’s compensation claims from 12 years to 3 years, removing permanent partial disability ratings from the state’s administrative code in recognition of advances made in medical technology, requiring adequate notice of any formal hearings, prohibiting indemnity payments when an injury occurs while a worker is intoxicated, and others. See the full memo.
An issue that wasn’t part of the April 27 memo is medical cost containment. Medical cost containment has been a contentious issue of late, as many payers strongly believe that worker’s compensation costs are growing too high and are making Wisconsin uncompetitive. WMC plans on submitting a second memo to the WCAC in May outlining reform ideas for the council to consider on medical cost containment. We are working with several member companies, including industry payers, insurance providers, and hospital systems, to develop the proposal that we will forward to the WCAC for consideration.
The WCAC meets next on May 27, and it is widely expected that the management and labor members will begin their negotiations at that time on the 2015-17 agreed bill.