Weekly news and updates from Washington's workers' comp and workplace safety leader
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The WSIA Weekly, 9.16.16

Top News:

Washington Supreme Court sides with Department, WSIA on time frames for recovering overpayments

Yesterday, the Washington Supreme Court released its decision in Birrueta v. Department of Labor & Industries, a case dealing with the time frames for recovering an overpayment of benefits caused by a worker's misrepresentation of facts. We previously blogged about Birrueta here, when we filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief supporting Labor & Industries' appeal. At issue was whether the Department or a self-insured employer has one year to recover an overpayment caused by a claimant's non-fraudulent misrepresentation of facts, or whether, as the Court of Appeals had decided, only 60 days. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals, and upheld the traditional reading of the statute for recoupment of overpayments, providing for one year in cases of innocent misrepresentation. You can read the Court's decision here

Court of Appeals holds objective signs of worsening not required in physical condition reopening
On Monday, Division One of the state Court of Appeals published a decision in Felipe v. Department of Labor & Industries, holding that objective medical findings are not necessary to support an application to re-open a claim due to aggravation of a physical condition. Previously, this rule was limited to psychiatric disabilities. Here, the Court extended the rule to non-psychiatric conditions. It will be interesting to see if this decision disregarding objective findings is limited to conditions that are subjective in nature, or all conditions. Read the decision here. The Department has until mid October to consider appealing to the Washington Supreme Court.  

Department issues latest guidance on Electronic Data Interchange
On Wednesday, the Department of Labor & Industries announced that "trading partner" registration is now available for the forthcoming Medical Bill Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Trading partners are entities submitting medical bill data to ISO, the third party vendor operating the interchange, and can be self-insured employers, TPAs, medical bill review companies, or EDI-specific vendors. L&I and ISO are encouraging early registration and participation in system testing. More information on the announcement is available here. To better understand the flow of data between self-insured employers, trading partners, and the EDI, the Department has also released this series of graphics showing the interrelation between systems. 

WCAC to meet 9/23
Members not otherwise attending our Fall Conference next Friday may have interest in the next quarterly meeting of the Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee, taking place from 9:00 a.m. to Noon on September 23rd at L&I headquarters in Tumwater. Typically, State Fund rate-setting for the coming year is explored at the September WCAC meeting. WCAC meetings are open to the public. 

WSIA News & Events:

Registration opened for Legal Issues Workshop

On Wednesday, WSIA opened registration for our always popular annual Legal Issues Workshop. This year's edition features Krishna Balasubrumani of Sather, Byerly & Holloway teaming up again with Ann Silvernale of Holmes Weddle & Barcott, along with a long slate of guest speakers, to update attendees on all of the latest issues affecting workers' comp law and practice in Washington. Take a look at the event & registration page here.  

New 5-part webinar series on IMEs and impairment ratings announced 
Also on Wednesday, we announced a new five-part webinar series called "From Head to Toe: An Insider's Guide to Impairment Rating in Washington, featuring four webinars by Dr. Edward Dagher of the Center for Musculoskeletal Evaluations and one by attorney Shawna Fruin of Reinisch Wilson Weier, occurring over the course of the fall and early winter. Members can register for webinars individually, or save by registering for all five. Take a look here.  

Last chance to register approaching for Fall Conference
There is still room for last-minute registration for our Fall Conference -- Ready for Safety? -- taking place next Friday, September 23rd at the newly remodeled Embassy Suites conference center in the SeaTac/Tukwila area. The conference's excellent agenda features major updates on OSHA/WISHA rules and compliance, along with additional safety, claims, and human resource insights. Details and registration info here.  

Department CEUs awarded for BIIA/legal webinar next Wednesday
Also next week, we're broadcasting a webinar Wednesday morning, September 21st at 10:00 a.m. featuring BIIA Assistant Chief Judge Lynn Hendrickson and workers' comp defense attorney Nicole Tedrow sorting out apparently conflicting Department policies, Board decisions, statutes, and case law. This unique program has been approved for 1.5 CEU credits from L&I, 1 legal and .5 claims management. Take a look here.

WSIA Legislative Committee to meet 9/27 in Kent
WSIA's Legislative Committee is holding its next meeting on September 27th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the offices of Eberle Vivian in Kent to focus on legislative agenda and strategy for the upcoming 2017 legislative session. Any member can participate in the Legislative Committee. Contact Kris Tefft if interested

WSIA Conference Planning Committee to meet 9/30 in Kent
WSIA's Conference Planning Committee is meeting Friday, September 30th from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, in person at the Archbright offices in Kent, or online over the GoToMeeting platform. The Conference Planning Committee works on topics, speakers, agendas, and other program details related to the WSIA seasonal and annual conferences. Any member can participate in the Conference Planning Committee. Contact Patrick Koenig if interested, or for the online meeting login info.

Notes from September Liaison Committee Meeting up
WSIA's Liaison Committee, which meets bi-monthly with Labor & Industries' Self-Insurance Program leadership, held its most recent meeting earlier this month. The minutes and handouts from that meeting are now available. The Liaison Committee troubleshoots claim or staffing issues, and receives policy and operations updates from the Department. Take a look at the notes here (member login req'd).
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