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The WSIA Weekly, 6.30.17

New membership year begins tomorrow - please send in your renewal!
July 1 marks a new fiscal and program year for WSIA, and our renewal notices for membership are arriving this week. Thank you so much for your continued support and membership in WSIA, and for renewing your membership. If you have any questions about renewing or have suggestions how we may continue to add value to your program, please drop us a line anytime.

Lawmakers reach budget deal, likely avert shutdown
As we noted last Friday, state lawmakers in Olympia had taken the state government to the brink of a shutdown, failing to reach an agreement on an operating budget -- with significant consequences for the Department of Labor & Industries and workers' comp & safety. By yesterday morning, news broke of a compromise on taxes and spending, and the final budget bill is now being printed up to be voted on later today. Assuming the Governor gets the budget signed by midnight, the lights stay on in state government, new time loss checks will still issue, and the self-insurance section staff will still be available next week. We'll need time to read the budget document, and will report back next week on any issues impacting workers' compensation or safety. 

State's average wage escalates 4.8 percent - workers' comp benefits to increase
The state's Employment Security Department, which calculates the state's average annual wage, has announced a jump this year to nearly $59,000, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. This impacts workers' compensation benefits, as the cost-of-living adjustment for indemnity benefits increases by that amount, as well as all benefits tied to the state's average wage, such as the maximum time loss cap, and more. See the Department's annual COLA notice (and links therein) reflecting the increase here.

Board of Directors annual retreat wraps up - welcome to new members
Earlier this morning, WSIA's Board of Directors wrapped up its three day annual retreat, engaging in continued strategic planning and setting vision and policy for the association in the coming year and beyond. The Board also welcomed new members Lori Johnson of Boeing as Secretary, Bernie Pratt of Pratt Day & Stratton as VP of Associates, Laurel Hensley of Sather Byerly & Holloway as Conference Planning Coordinator, and Dana Schleichardt of Corvel as Regional Meeting Coordinator.

Department's Foot & Ankle Treatment Guideline Expanded - your comments to L&I requested
Earlier this week, Labor & Industries' self-insurance listserv announced changes to the Department's treatment guideline for foot and ankle conditions and solicited comments on some of the significant expansions in the document for presentation to the Industrial Insurance Medical Advisory Committee at its next meeting July 27. One especially problematic expansion in the guideline has to do with plantar fasciitis. Dr. Peter Greaney of Anaheim, CA-based WorkCare, has submitted a letter challenging the Department's change of guideline on the work-relatedness of this common condition. We are supporting Dr. Greaney's comments and asking members to do so as well. If you click this link, a self-addressed and suggested e-mail to the Department staff will pop up that you can edit and/or just hit send if you wish to comment.

Paid Family Leave Insurance likely a go in Washington - see the preliminary details
We've been noting the progress of a bipartisan agreement reached to implement and fund a family and medical leave insurance program in Washington, providing a state-run insurance pool to offset lost wages in the event of a disability or family medical leave of absence. New details are emerging about the program, including a draft of the proposed legislation. Click here to read the proposal itself, and here for a summary of the provisions. There is an option for self-insurance or voluntary plan compliance in the proposal, and assuming it passes into law by the end of the current legislative special session, we'll be advising member with more details on that and other portions of the bill.

Liaison Committee to meet next Thursday - got any issues? 
WSIA's Liaison Committee, which meets bi-monthly with Labor & Industries self-insurance leadership, holds its next meeting Thursday July 6. We'll be discussing policy updates from the Office of Medical Director including upcoming treatment guidelines, updates on employer reporting of medical data, an upcoming surety improvement project, the ongoing review of the self-insurance administrative rules, the Department's adjudication performance and backlog, and more. If you have any issues you would like brought up to the Department through the liaison committee, please send an e-mail as soon as you can.

Insolvency Trust Board needs employer volunteer
The Department of Labor & Industries' Insolvency Trust Board, which meets annually (and when needed) to discuss issues related to surety, financial watch, defaults, Insolvency Trust Fund levels, and assessments, has an employer vacancy. The Board is comprised of three self-insured employer members, one labor member, and staff from L&I. WSIA needs to appoint a member to serve on this board for a two year term and join Matt Saxon of REI and Kris Tefft of WSIA in representing the community. If you are interested or would like to learn more about this important volunteer opportunity, please let us know.

Save the Dates for some fall programs announced
Please mark your calendars for some new dates we've put on the calendar for this fall. Our yearly Fall Conference will be happening September 15th in the SeaTac area, and our annual Legal Issues Workshop will be taking place October 19-20 in Olympia. Registration for both events will open next month.

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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