Coalition calls for Wisconsin to become the 45th state to enact a fee schedule to rein in out-of-control worker’s compensation medical costs
MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) announced on Tuesday the formation of the Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition, which will advocate for meaningful reforms to Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation laws. The coalition’s forty-six employer associations range from manufacturers to municipalities and farmers to road builders.
Together, the coalition is calling on lawmakers to support the agreed-bill from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), which includes the creation of a medical fee schedule – like forty-four other states have done – to finally reduce Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation medical costs.
The WCAC, a ten-person Department of Workforce Development council that includes employer groups and labor unions, including both WMC and the AFL-CIO, unanimously approved the agreed-bill in August and is expected to send the finalized version to the Legislature soon. If enacted by lawmakers, the fee schedule included in the agreed-bill would bring medical costs down. This would give Wisconsin one more area where the state has a competitive edge.
“Worker’s compensation medical costs are outrageously high in Wisconsin because we do not have a meaningful cost-control mechanism. That means higher costs for manufacturers, for cities and villages, for construction companies and farms and for every other employer,” said Chris Reader, WMC Director of Health and Human Resources Policy. “Forty-four states have made the sound decision of adopting a fee schedule to control medical costs within the government-mandated worker’s compensation system. It’s time for Wisconsin to do the same.”
According to the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), Wisconsin has some of the highest medical costs for worker’s compensation in the nation. In the most recent year they studied, WCRI found Wisconsin costs to be 47 percent higher than the national median. Looking only at serious injuries that required a week off of work, costs were 60 percent higher than the median.
Employers have tried to manage the high costs by investing in safety and reducing injuries. In fact, from 1994 to 2014, workplace injuries dropped a dramatic 58 percent in Wisconsin, falling from approximately 220,000 per year to under 95,000. Unfortunately no cost savings materialized because the medical cost per claim rose over 450 percent over the same time period.
“Public and private employers agree, along with organized labor, that the Legislature should reform worker’s compensation by adopting the medical fee schedule contained in the agreed-bill,” added Reader. “That is why we are asking lawmakers to support the package approved by the Advisory Council.”
The Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition sent a letter to legislators urging them to take up the reforms approved by WCAC this session.
For more information, contact:
Nick Novak, 608.258.3400