The Bureau Bulletin

Newsletter: January 2021

Photo of Sue Ann Head, and Abbie Hudgens giving award to Shirley Vincent

Watch the 2020 Sue Ann Head Award Announcement

Watch as we recognize the three finalists and announce the winner.

BWC Announces the Sue Ann Head Award Finalists

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recently awarded the second Sue Ann Head Award for Innovation and Excellence in Tennessee Workers’ Compensation. This award honors the legacy of Administrator Sue Ann Head who retired in 2012 after more than 40 years of service to the agency. Ms. Head passed away in May 2018. To be nominated, one must have been an individual or stakeholder who has introduced new strategies to claims management that have resulted in positive measurable outcomes, gone above and beyond the standards expected in administering their workers’ compensation program, instilled a workers’ compensation culture based on trust, cooperation and mutual interests, understood the concerns of injured workers and their families, and set an example to others in their field. Nominations may be made for individuals or entities. There were multiple nominees, from which three finalists were named and a winner selected.

REWARD program badge

Introducing REWARD

Recovery starts in the mindset of the employer and injured worker.

New Program

We're introducing a program designed to return employees to work and reduce disabilities called R.E.W.A.R.D.

With a little help from some successful Tennessee employers and some guidance by us, we hope to see more Tennessee employers develop and implement their own return-to-work programs.

Learning from the Best

In order to provide "best practices", we talked to employers who already have successful return-to-work programs and picked their brains on how their successes could be replicated state-wide.


The first element of the program will be the publication of a toolkit designed to help employers realize the rewards of minimizing workplace accidents by promoting workplace safety and lowering workers comp costs by providing early return-to-work best practices. This toolkit will be released in early 2021. (We'll email you about it from this newsletter.)

Anything else?

That's just the start! Other future components include a Physician Certification Program, an Employee Special Recognition Program, and additional resources for employers to implement their own REWARD programs. We unveiled the program in our 2020 Educational Conference this past October, watch the session to hear from the REWARD task force themselves.

First Next Step Program Recipient Awarded

Congrats to the FIRST EVER Next Step Scholarship Recipient! Douglas isn't letting his past work injury stop him now. Make us proud!

Congrats Douglas! First scholarship recipient of our Next Step Program.

MLK Day and President's Day

Office Closures

State offices will be closed on Monday, January 18, 2021 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and February 15th in honor or President's Day.

EDI Release 1.0 to 3.1

Less Paperwork...and penalties for non-compliance.

The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation transitioned from EDI Release 1.0 to Release 3.1 effective October 27, 2020. This transition will bring about some changes to the Bureau's Claims Handling Standards and the requirements for insurance adjusters. They include:

  • Deleting the requirement for adjusters to file a paper Notice of Denial Form C-20 with the Bureau. It still must be mailed to the injured worker, their representative and the treating physician.

  • Deleting the requirement for adjusters to file a paper Notice of Controversy Form C-27. Denials, in whole or in part, must be reported via EDI using the PD code.

  • When the SSN is missing or unknown, adjusters must assign an identification number that begins with “9” and is followed by the employee’s date of birth. This information must be entered into the Employee ID Assigned by Jurisdiction EDI field.

  • Deleting the requirement for adjusters to file a paper First Report of Compensation Form C-22. This information must be filed electronically via EDI within five business days of the initial payment.

  • Wage Statements Form C-41 should be filed with the Bureau only upon request. Requests, when made, are most likely to come from Bureau Mediators or a Judge within the Court of Workers' Compensation Claims.

  • Insurance carriers, TPAs and self-insured employers must reach a standard of 85% of their EDI filings being accepted by the Bureau within the required timelines for each individual form.

It is important for all adjusters to know and follow all of the rules, and properly advise employers of their rights and responsibilities, in order to assure injured workers are treated fairly and that claims are handled appropriately and uniformly.

The Bureau’s Claims Handling Standards and General Rules are available on the Bureau’s website. Penalties for violating these rules are now in effect.

Telehealth Rules for Workers’ Comp

If all three parties agree, telehealth is an acceptable channel to receive care.

While telehealth technology and its use are not new, widespread adoption had been relatively slow prior to the pandemic. In our proposed rules if all three parties (injured worker, the employer/adjuster and the treating physician) agree, telehealth is an acceptable channel to receive care.

View Proposed Rules

Recent policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced barriers to telehealth access and have promoted the use of telehealth as a way to deliver acute, chronic, primary and specialty care. Telehealth services help provide necessary care to patients while minimizing the transmission risk of COVID-19 to healthcare personnel (HCP) and patients. Telehealth has also been shown to improve patient health outcomes. Benefits of telehealth additionally include providing remote access to healthcare services, which may increase participation for those who are medically or socially vulnerable or who may not have ready access to providers. Telehealth may also help preserve the patient-provider relationship at times when an in-person visit is not practical or feasible.

Our telehealth working group met multiple times over the course of 18 months to work on making the best telehealth rules possible. The working group consisted of medical professionals, attorneys, labor groups, employer groups, and insurance professionals, and work began well before the pandemic hit and the need for telehealth intensified.

Notice of Rulemaking Hearing for the rules on Telehealth for Workers’ Compensation was filed on 12/21/2020 (see attached). There will be a public hearing on 2/19/2020 at 10:00 am for these Telehealth rules and the updated Medical Fee Schedule, Rules for Medical Payments, and Electronic Medical Billing rules.

Instructions for joining the meeting are listed below.

Download Talking Points

What might be changing?

Since telehealth is optional, there is no requirement in these rules that telehealth be offered to an injured worker. However, if telehealth is offered, the rules must be followed.

How could I get involved?

All are welcome to attend the public rulemaking hearing at 10:00 am on 2/19/2020. The hearing will be done via Webex.

Is there anything I can do?

Public comments will be accepted until 3/5/2020. Submit your comments to Troy Haley.

NextGen Award Recipient from the Tennessee Bureau of workers' compensation

NextGen recipient: Jay Hicks

Congrats to our own Jay Hicks for being selected as a 2020 IAIABC NextGen winner!

The International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) is an association of workers' compensation jurisdictional agencies from around the world, as well as private organizations involved in the delivery of workers' compensation benefits and services. The IAIABC works to identify best practices, develop and implement standards, and provide education and information sharing.

The IAIABC announced Jay Hicks as a recipient of the 2020 NextGen Award. The award recognizes talented young professionals who positively impact workers’ compensation, make a significant difference their organization, and lead the industry to the future.

Jay Hicks, a Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Ombudsman Attorney, helped developed the ombudsman attorney program to assist self-represented injured workers and qualifying employers represent themselves in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims.

One example of Jay's recent work is his collaboration with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services to create two voice-activated forms. This tech opens up capabilities for injured workers who have difficulty with reading, typing, and/or writing because the application reads the forms and translates verbal responses to typewritten words.

Keep up the great work, Jay!

Read more or share your comments on the LinkedIn post

Comp Laude® Award Nominees

Congratulations to our three 2020 Comp Laude Nominees!

Since its inception, the Comp Laude Awards, presented by, has set out to change workers’ compensation to include a more positive narrative. This is done in a variety of ways, including shining the spotlight on industry professionals who are making positive contributions to the industry. The award is the inspiration of WorkComp Central’s founder, the late David DePaolo.

Congratulations to our very own Chief Judge Kenneth Switzer and Judges Pamela Johnson and Thomas Wyatt for being nominated for the prestigious 2020 Comp Laude Award!

The Comp Laude® Award recognizes integrity, excellence and success in the workers' compensation industry. Professionals are nominated annually by their peers in recognition of their significant industry contributions. They are nominated for being thought leaders and embodying the Comp Laude® mission: to change the narrative of the workers’ compensation industry to a more positive dialogue. Comp Laude® also celebrates the cooperation of all industry stakeholders focused on placing the injured worker at the center of the conversation.

This past year, the company received over 220 nominations from across the US in ten categories. Our agency has a history of winning this award, as Administrator Abbie Hudgens was a recipient in 2017.

Please join us in congratulating our very worthy nominees.

Photos of speakers from the 2020 conference.

Virtual Conference 2020 Recap

The future of work comp, ethics, COVID-19, case law update, and REWARD.

At the end of October, we picked up our annual in-person conference and transformed it into virtual online conference. We offered eight sessions that were available to watch live or on demand. In those sessions, we peeked into the future to see what workers' comp might look like in 2030, discussed some real-world ethics situations—some including COVID-specific situations, a case law update and the introduction of our REWARD program. The second annual Sue Ann Head Award for Excellence in Workers' Compensation was announced and over $5,000 was raised for Kids' Chance with donations to a virtual pumpkin patch.

We dearly missed seeing everyone in-person and hope we can resume to that format as soon as safely possible.

If you still need CEUs for CRC, CDMS, CCM, SHRM, you may be able to Rewind << For specific questions about credits, ask here.

Rewind << Register & Attend the 2020 Sessions in 2021

Program Stats

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