Dr. Joseph Marth, VP of Business Solutions for conference presenting sponsor Archbright, speaks to attendees about creating healthy workplace culture
Greetings from Winter West!
Over one hundred colleagues from all aspects of the workers' compensation profession are gathered today at Safeco Field to network and learn from one another and hear from an excellent slate of speakers. Missed this one? Catch Winter East in Spokane on January 25th or save the date for our Spring Conference March 23rd in Bellevue.
Busy first week in the Legislature - your comments sought on new bills
The Washington State Legislature gaveled into session on Monday (if you missed last week's preview, click here), and already a number of bills have been introduced and heard in workers' compensation, or are scheduled for consideration next week. Expanded presumptions of occupational disease for police, firefighters, and Hanford workers have been the big issue so far. Here are some new generally applicable claims management issues to be aware of and your input is valuable - e-mail Kris Tefft with any comments:
L&I taking comments on pension discount rate; legislation forthcoming
- Independent Medical Exam Records: The Legislature is considering a new bill this year that would require self-insured employers to submit medical records for an IME electronically or, if on paper, within 10 business days of the scheduled exam. The proposal would also direct the Department to develop "access" to telemedicine for IMEs. The bill is SB 6226.
- Hearing Aids: HB 2591 and SB 6232 would mandate the replacement (as opposed to repair/refurbishment) of hearing aids in workers' compensation claims at least once every five years. The bill seems to originate from a perception in the audiology community that the State Fund is too stingy with hearing aid replacement, but this mandate would impact self-insureds as well. The House bill is up for public hearing in the House Labor Committee on Monday.
The Department of Labor & Industries is taking comments through January 23rd on a rule it intends to adopt to drop the pension discount rate -- the percentage of return on investment the Department assumes it will get on its invested pension reserve assets -- from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent. The Department is on a multi-year effort to step down this assumption to 4.5 percent. It is proceeding slowly out of concern for self-insurers, who must immediately "true up" any deficiencies in prefunded pension liabilities caused by lower investment assumptions. Meanwhile, legislation is coming this session to allow the Department to compute State Fund liabilities on a lower discount rate than self-insured liabilities, which should help mitigate this yearly problem. For background, see this recent blog post.
Latest statistics on structured settlements available
Thanks to BIIA business member Jack Eng, we have a copy of the latest statistics on Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA) dispositions at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. Click here to see the order totals by type and insurer, and here to see a list of all dispositions last year.
2018-19 self-insurance audit plan released
Earlier this week, the Department of Labor & Industries released its 2018-19 audit plan for auditing all self-insurers according to the norms of the new audit reform model. Take a look here. If you have any problems with any aspect of L&I audits, drop us a line; we are represented on the audit governance committee and can pass along concerns.
Rising Medical Solutions annual Workers' Comp Benchmarking Study Released
Last fall we sent out a link for WSIA members to take part in the annual benchmarking study for workers' compensation program issues sponsored by Rising Medical Solutions. The full report, a 3-year evaluation of reported industry best practices, is now out, and you're welcome to download a copy here.
Self-Insurance Ombuds office announces move to Tacoma
New for 2018, the office of Ombuds for Self-Insured injured workers has moved to Tacoma from its prior location at the L&I headquarters in Tumwater. Click here for the office's updated contact information.