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The WSIA Weekly, 6.23.17

What happens to comp if state government shuts down?
The Washington State Legislature has gone into a third overtime session this week, unable to complete its work on a state operating budget by its original late April deadline. The state's fiscal biennium ends next Friday, June 30th, and with it the legal authority to spend any money. Absent a budget in place July 1, state government in large part shuts down. It's been all over the news, with layoff notices going out to state employees, and so on. As lobbyists, we strongly doubt it's going to happen -- a deal is likely to come together right at the end next week -- but if it does, there are real world consequences for workers' compensation (and workplace safety). For a run down on some of the potential consequences, check out our new blog post here.

July 1 marks a milestone in the SIRAS/EDI project
Labor & Industries' self-insurance section will soon be releasing some news about its current and ongoing efforts with respect to the Self-Insurance Risk Analysis System (SIRAS) project and the medical bill Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). July 1 marks the two year anniversary of the commencement of development on the project, which functions as a data analytics filter over existing SIEDRS reporting, a customer concern web portal, and the EDI. July 1 is also the date by which EDI reporting is supposed to become mandatory -- although the Department is allowing registration and onboarding to continue past July 1 for a period of time. In particular, self-insurance staff intends to reach out to employers and vendors who have not yet registered for EDI or have not yet begun testing, as well as those who have shared issues with getting online. Watch for an update on the L&I listserv, or contact L&I's Brian Schmidlkofer with EDI questions. 

WCAC met yesterday in Tukwila; materials available for download
The state's Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee held its most recent quarterly meeting yesterday in Tukwila, receiving a number of updates on the financial health of the workers' comp system, the caseload at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, the Department's metrics on early claim intervention and disability prevention, and more. This meeting had points of emphasis around the latest information on the Centers of Occupational Health and Education (COHE) program as well as the Department's efforts to improve how employer and worker customers are able to communicate with the agency. To take a look at the meeting materials, click here.

Federal OSHA seeks comments on the VPP program
The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration has announced this week its intent to reshape the national Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) designation "so that it continues to represent safety and health excellence, leverages partner resources, further recognizes the successes of long-term participants, and supports smart program growth." It is taking public stakeholder comments in person next month but also online through a comment docket. For members interested in the future of the VPP, click here for the announcement and here for the comment portal.   

The future of the Second Injury Fund in Washington
A very important issue for the self-insured community in Washington is what to do about the rising cost of the Second Injury Fund. Alarm bells sounded last fall when the fund's assessment skyrocketed - and the same issue is likely to present itself again this fall when new rate notices go out. Bottom line, the cost of experience-rated assessments for Second Injury Fund "combined effects" pensions is getting to the point that ordinary "direct effect" pensions are commensurate, and in extreme cases, already cheaper. It all raises the question for the community whether the Fund has outlived its purpose. We'll be organizing a series of outreaches with the whole SI community on this issue once we get this year's financial forecasts in late summer. In the meantime we came across a great introduction to the issue by attorney Shawna Fruin of Reinisch Wilson Weier on the firm's blog. Take a look here.   

The RTW Summit

An Insider's Guide to Vocational Rehabilitation in Washington
July 28th | All Day | Swedish Medical Center, Seattle | Click for Details

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