Registration opens soon for 2020 Annual Conference: Sponsors & Exhibitors Wanted!
As we started to tease last week, we are just about to open registration on this year's Annual Conference, "The Road Ahead," taking place May 6-8 in sunny Tri-Cities with a great continuing education agenda, golf, wine tasting, and great networking. To give as much exposure as possible with the roll-out, we're actively seeking sponsors now, and those planning to exhibit in the region's largest workers' comp trade show can select their spaces now. Click here for more information.
Penalties, claims handler licensing, and IMEs move as other bills die at cutoff
Wednesday of this week was the deadline for non-budget bills to pass out of their house of origin to stay alive. SHB 2409, which we've been covering this session and which hikes penalties (including a "per occurrence" multiplier for self-insurers), creates a new "fair conduct" penalty for all employers and employer reps, and calls for the licensing of all claims handlers (TPA and self-administered), passed the House Tuesday evening with bipartisan opposition. It heads to the Senate Labor Committee for a public hearing on Monday.
SSB 6440 passed the Senate this week and also has a hearing Monday, in the House Labor Committee. As amended, it creates some new requirements around IMEs as to no-show fees, reasonable distance to travel, telemedicine, and a more specific enumeration of the purposes for IMEs, but pushes off the majority of burdensome restrictions originally proposed to a summer working group to discuss and make recommendations. We aren't supportive of the elements that remain, but it was necessary to agree to in order to remove the worst provisions in favor of the working group approach.
Bills that failed to pass their house of origin this week include SSB 6552 impacting the 3-day waiting period for time loss, and HB 2646 on musculoskeletal disorders in the health care sector, in addition to bills previously covered.
For more bills, bill tracking, and legislative info click here (member login req'd) or e-mail Kris Tefft to join our legislative or legal committee e-mail lists.
King 5 Investigates Department payment for vocational rehabilitation at Renton site
Earlier this week, King 5 news in Seattle published a two part investigative report (part one here, part two here) on claimants' bar complaints about the Department's use of "Office Careers" in Renton for retraining plans that are questionable, and have not held up on appeal. Unfortunately, the two employers the report mentions by name are self-insured. Nevertheless, we do not believe there is any particular concentration of self-insurance use of Office Careers, and we point out that the Department approves all retraining plans. Still, the report has caused a public relations kerfuffle at the Legislature as trial lawyers have attempted to paint it as a self-insurance/TPA issue, partly in furtherance of its lobbying effort on the aforementioned SHB 2409 on penalties. Stay tuned for any further fallout from this series, and take urgent care to oversee any recommended or approved plan that a worker be retrained by this vendor.
Got Issues? March Liaison Committee meeting coming soon
The next meeting of WSIA's Liaison Committee, our bi-monthly opportunity to address issues with L&I's Self-Insurance management, is taking place on March 5th. If you've got claims or other sorts of issues you would like us to bring up and troubleshoot with the Department, please drop me a line.