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The WSIA Weekly, 3.17.17

Greetings from Spring Conference!
Today's newsletter comes to you from Bellevue, where we're on site for today's Spring Conference, "Applying Evidence-Based Medicine in Workers' Comp," with about one hundred of our friends and colleagues. The morning kicked off with a thought-provoking talk on liberating injured workers from chronic pain by noted spinal surgeon David Hanscom from Swedish Medical Center, and is continuing through various topics of medical management with speakers from multiple areas of clinical practice. The next chance to get together will be at our Annual Conference, and we look forward to seeing everyone in the Tri-Cities in May. 

State Senate to hear occupational disease bills next Wednesday
The two legislative proposals we're focusing attention on that would significantly expand occupational disease coverage in Washington for certain workforce segments continue their march along the process. Substitute House Bill 1655, which creates occupational disease coverage for stress-based psychological conditions among police and fire personnel, and Substitute House Bill 1723, which creates presumptive coverage for workers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy Hanford nuclear site, are scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Commerce, Labor, and Sports Committee next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. WSIA intends to share with committee members public policy concerns with both proposals. It is uncertain right now what life the bills will have after the committee process.

Group Health|Kaiser Permanente Washington announce updated policy on SI prescription billing
Last November, Group Health, now Kaiser Permanente Washington, announced a new policy that would require injured workers of self-insured employers to pay directly for prescribed medicines and seek reimbursement from the employer. Citing some difficulties with that policy, a working group developed between representatives of Kaiser, Labor & Industries, WSIA, and pharmacy benefit managers. As a result, a revision to the policy is underway, which would result in direct billing to self-insured employers for those utilizing an electronic billing platform. Read an announcement on the updated policy here.

WSIA submits comments on L&I carpal tunnel guideline
On Tuesday, WSIA, along with a handful of members, submitted comments to Labor & Industries on proposed updates to their medical treatment guideline on carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly about assessing the work-relatedness of computer use. In particular, WSIA objects to the proposal's misuse of the "liberal construction" concept in workers' compensation. The Department cited conflicting medical evidence on causation, but believed that "liberal construction" required it make a causation conclusion more favorable to claimants. WSIA points out that "liberal construction" is about interpreting the law, not about examining facts and scientific evidence. You can catch a copy of our comments at this link.

WWCP credentialing announced for 2017 - registration now open!
The second year of our revamped Washington Workers' Compensation Professional (WWCP) is back for 2017. After taking a record thirty five colleagues through the program last year to successful achievement of the WWCP credential, we are now enrolling this year's class. The program has been again enhanced to include wage calculation instruction and testing along with the legal, medical, and claims management coverage. Click here to read all about the program, and find links to the registration pages. We hope to see many of you in May and June for this unique professional development opportunity. 

Critical Update for SI Employers at our Annual Conference in May
I want to alert all self-insured employer representatives to a very important session during our Annual Conference in May. We've arranged for a critical update and briefing by the Department of Labor & Industries compliance personnel and our own Lisa Vivian (Eberle Vivian), Therese Baxter (Seattle Mariners and Seahawks), and Terri Neinkark (Seattle Childrens' Hospital) to go over the complete results of the recently finished Tier 1 audit reform project, and explain and take Q&A on the now initiated Tier 2 audits. This panel is set for Friday morning, May 12th. Lisa, Therese, and Terri are our community's representatives to the L&I process, and have been involved with L&I management in the design of the audit tiers. This is an issue that touches on all self-insured employers, and we encourage company folks to attend the session. Here's the link for conference details, agenda, and registration.

Learn all about investigations on April 26th
We've set up a new (rescheduled, technically) live seminar training the afternoon of April 26th from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Puget Sound ESD office, which attendees can either attend in-person or via webinar online. We had to move the event from its original time in early February due to some scheduling issues. It features an all-star cast of personnel from law, claims management, and investigations, looking at the issue from all angles. Click here to learn more.

Don't forget free Regional Meetings around the state in April
We have four regional meetings taking place in Olympia, Renton, Portland, and Spokane next month, all featuring a CEU presentation by Dr. Scott Kitchel and attorney Lauren Oda on "Common Injuries of the Spine," and including networking time. Regional meetings are free for members to attend but require an RSVP by email. Click on our events calendar to see the different date and time information. 

L&I holding free safety event March 30th at Tumwater HQ
The Department of Labor & Industries' Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) has announced an interesting, complimentary, one day conference at their headquarters in Tumwater focusing on company safety programs. Taking place on March 30th, the event is designed for safety managers, personnel, and others interested in VPP status and accident prevention. If this is you, take a look at the event information and registration info here
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