Reform effort stalls in the Legislature
This past Wednesday marked the deadline for bills to emerge from their chamber of origin in the Washington State Legislature in order to stay alive for further consideration. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 5822, the employer community-supported reform bill, was not brought up in the Senate for a vote. Although it had 23 of the 25-member Senate majority signed on as co-sponsors, the last two votes necessary to pass the bill proved insurmountable in this polarized political climate. Nevertheless, our lobbying team remains on alert with respect to some adverse legislation still pending (HB 1655 and 1723, concerning stress-based occupational disease claims for police and firefighters, and a presumption of occupational disease claims for Hanford nuclear site workers, respectively), and to pursue any opportunities to advance our legislative objectives as the session continues to unfold.
>> Latest legislative update available here (member login req'd).
Comments due next Tuesday on L&I Carpal Tunnel guideline
As we reported last month, Labor & Industries is seeking comments on changes to its treatment guideline on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in particular, the section on the work-relatedness of computer use, keyboarding, and similar activity. The deadline for public comments is next Tuesday March 14th. Read the proposed guideline here; I particularly call your attention to the "liberal construction" language, which the Department feels compels it to find work-relatedness in the face of conflicting scientific evidence. WSIA intends to comment that this is a misuse of "liberal construction," which is intended to govern legal interpretations, not factual interpretations. If you are interested in commenting, the contact information including department e-mail address is available at this link.
L&I creates new Office of Civil Rights - could impact you
The Department of Labor & Industries has recently created an Office of Civil Rights, arising from a legal agreement entered into between the Department and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, in order to resolve a dispute over allegations L&I was improperly handling the workers' comp claims of workers of limited English proficiency (LEP), in violation of their federal civil rights. Part of the activities of the office involve fielding complaints from workers about perceived civil rights issues in the handling of their claims. Some of these complaints could involve self-insured employers. If so, staff from this new office will reach out to discuss the issues in order to develop a response. As this is a new process, I felt it important to provide the broader self-insurance community with an awareness that it could be possible to receive a contact from the Department in this regard. For more information, click here or drop me a line.
Excited for Spring Conference next week
We're now just one week away from WSIA's Spring Conference, focusing on evidence-based medicine in workers' compensation. Things will kick off Friday morning at the Bellevue Embassy Suites with an address from noted author and physician Dr. David Hanscom from Swedish Medical Center. To get a flavor of how Dr. Hanscom addresses chronic pain issues, listen to these recent radio interviews he gave on Seattle radio -- click here for part 1, and here for part 2. There's still room at the conference for your registration, but time is getting short -- click here for full details and registration.
Peter Rousmaniere to keynote May's Annual Conference
We've had our Annual Conference (May 10-12, Tri-Cities) open for registration for just over a week, and registrations, exhibitor sign-ups, and sponsorships have been great. We're excited to direct members' attention to our program agenda, where we have national workers' compensation journalist and consultant Peter Rousmaniere keynoting Thursday morning's session as well as leading an afternoon break-out session on policy issues. Check out the conference main page to see our latest sponsors, as well as all the details and registration information for all three days.
Attend the National Council of Self-Insurers Conference at member rates
We want to see you at our conference first -- but if the conference bug is still hitting you this spring, take a look at the National Council of Self-Insurers' annual meeting, taking place this year in San Diego June 4-7 at the Wyndham Bayside Hotel. WSIA members can register for the conference at the NCSI member price, even if you're not a NCSI member. Just put WSIA along with your name on your registration. Click here for the conference details.