News from Washington's Workers' Comp & Workplace Safety Association
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WSIA Weekly, 12.5.14

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L&I issues guidance for complying with Crabb decision
Earlier this year, the state's Court of Appeals decided that the Legislature's effort in 2011 to freeze COLAs for injured workers that year didn't apply to workers with maximum benefits. As bizarre as that decision is, the Washington Supreme Court did not accept L&I's appeal, so it stands. Earlier this week, the Department released guidance for self-insured employers in complying with the decision for claims open in 2011 where recalculation will be necessary, including an example calculation and link to new maximum benefit tables.

WSIA submits supplemental comments on Coston rule proposal
On Monday, WSIA submitted further comments to the Department of Labor & Industries on its efforts to craft a rule governing the penalization of self-insured employers of unreasonable delays or denials of benefit payments following the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals' Coston decision. In October, the Department re-submitted its proposal, with a number of changes, some suggested by self-insureds. While the difference between WSIA and the Department narrowed with the new proposal, some issues still remain as described in our letter. We anticipate the Department will adopt its final rule on December 23.

Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee Meets in Tukwila
This morning, the state's Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee met at L&I's Tukwila office, receiving and discussing a series of updates from the Department and Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals on agency operations, legislative and regulatory initiatives, and the financial health of the state fund over the last fiscal quarter. Overall, the state fund realized about $67 million in net income off about half a billion dollars in premium and benefits, and its reserve increased modestly from $950 to $961 million. Specific topics discussed included metrics underlying the Department's return to work & vocational rehabilitation initiative, the Logger Safety Initiative, and upcoming self-insurance audit reform. A copy of the committee handout is on our website. WSIA is fortunate to be represented on the WCAC by Sheri Sundstrom of Hoffman Construction.

Department officials to attend WSIA Legislative Committee meeting for Q&A

L&I's Vickie Kennedy, Assistant Director for Insurance Services, and Tammy Fellin, Legislative Liaison, will be joining us for the first portion of WSIA's next Legislative Committee meeting taking place on December 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Eberle Vivian offices in Kent. We'll be discussing positions on L&I legislation, and the positioning of WSIA's own legislative priorities, heading into the January start of the 2015 legislative session. The committee is open to all WSIA members, just contact me or Kari Heinold to be added to the e-mail roster for notices of committee activity.

Busy week ahead for IIU
WSIA's Industrial Insurance University goes into overdrive next week with our Certification Review course Monday and Tuesday in Lacey for those sitting for the L&I certification exam; our complimentary webinar on L&I's new audit reform pilot project on Thursday; and the Self-Insurance Colloquium we're sponsoring with Labor & Industries in Seattle on Friday. Although registration is closed for Cert. Review and the Colloquium, there are still about a dozen spots left for the webinar for interested parties. Just contact Kari Heinold to reserve your spot.

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