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CONTENTS
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for workers' compensation professionals

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

February 2007

Annual workers' compensation legislative reports available

2 Department testing data-driven approach 3 Amendments to work comp treatment parameter rules 3 Workers' compensation dispute-resolution process studied 4 Mediation 101: Identifying cases for mediation 4 Notice concerning annual Workers' Compensation Report of Benefits Paid D-1 Court decisions: October through December 2006

Annual legislative reports available

Mediation 101: Identifying cases for mediation

Court decisions: October through December 2006

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Decisions

Summaries of

D-1

Annual workers' compensation legislative reports available
2006 Collection and Assessment of Fines and Penalties

Minnesota Statutes §176.222 directs the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to submit an annual report regarding the assessment and collection of fines and penalties under the workers’ compensation law. Some of the results of the current report include the following. • In fiscal-year 2006, there was an increase in the amount of failure to insure penalties assessed. • Twenty-seven percent of the penalties assessed in fiscal-year 2006 resulted from investigations of home health care providers. • Of the other penalties assessed in fiscal-year 2006, 17 percent of the total penalties assessed involved uninsured employers in the construction trades and five percent involved the trucking industry. • The increase in the quantity of the “other penalties” category is primarily due to review of all denials of primary liability. The complete 2006 report is available online at www.doli.state.mn.us/pubwkcp.html.
2006 Prompt First Action Report on Workers' Compensation Claims

Minnesota Statutes §176.223 directs the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to publish an annual report providing data about the promptness of all insurers and selfinsurers in making first payments on a claim for injury. The department evaluates data submitted on the First Report of Injury and the Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination forms to determine whether the first payment or denial of benefits is timely. In fiscal-year 2006, 87.1 percent of the 28,708 lost-time claims had a timely first action. This is an increase from fiscal-year 2005, where 85.7 percent of the 29,177 lost-time claims had a timely first action. The complete 2006 report is available online at www.doli.state.mn.us/pubwkcp.html.

Department testing data-driven approach
The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is evaluating the possibility of moving toward data-driven regulation in workers' compensation instead of its current forms-based approach. As part of this project, DLI is now working with the information collected on one workers' compensation form — the Notice of Intention to Discontinue (NOID) — via the data it contains rather than a scanned image of the form. 2
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Amendments to work comp treatment parameter rules
By Kate Berger, Legal Services

Information about possible adoption of or amendment to Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) rules is available in the department rulemaking docket posted on the DLI Web site at www.doli.state.mn.us/rulemaking_activity.html. The rulemaking docket provides drafts of rules and other information about the rule adoption process, including how to submit comments. Current drafts of amendments to the workers' compensation treatment parameter rules are available for review. The drafts include possible rules governing muscle relaxants, narcotic analgesics, long-term use of narcotic analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and other amendments to parts 5221.6030 to 5221.6600. The drafts are available for review at www.doli.state.mn.us/pdf/rulemaking_5221_ 6020_8900_docket_trtm_par.pdf. The draft rules will be discussed with the Medical Services Review Board at its meeting at the department (443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul) on March 1, 2007, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Workers' compensation dispute-resolution process studied
By Brian Zaidman, Research Analyst Research and Statistics

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) Research and Statistics unit is engaged in a project to help the DLI Benefit Management and Resolution unit improve its administration of the workers’ compensation dispute-resolution process. The purpose of the project is to statistically describe the workers’ compensation dispute-resolution process, identifying areas where administrative changes can improve system performance. Data is being collected from case file documents and log entries to attempt to answer many questions. • What issues are disputed? • How are disputes brought to the attention of DLI and how are they resolved? • What factors affect when, where and how resolution occurs?
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• What opportunities exist for parties to resolve issues before disputes are presented to DLI? • After disputes are presented, are there opportunities for resolving some of them at an earlier stage than occurs now? • What aspects of the dispute-resolution process are working well? • Are there areas for improvement? • In medical treatment disputes, to what extent are the treatment parameters applied by the parties and by DLI specialists and Office of Administrative Hearings judges in their decisions? The study is focusing on disputes that were presented to DLI in 2003. This is to allow enough time for the dispute-resolution process to have run its course between then and now. The file review process will continue through June 2007; the results will be presented to DLI staff members later in the year.

MEDIATION 101:

Identifying cases for mediation

By Mark McCrea, Supervisor, Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is committed to providing quick and effective disputeresolution services to parties in Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system. The expanded use of mediation has been identified as one of the primary tools DLI intends to use to accomplish this objective. Mediation is voluntary. Consequently, parties may request mediation for any dispute or claim, at any time. No filings or other formalities are necessary to participate in mediation in Minnesota’s system. Mediators at DLI frequently conduct mediations regarding closed periods of disability, denials of primary liability, medical-only claims, claims filed by pro se (without an attorney) litigants, permanent partial disability claims, average-weekly-wage issues and disputes about medical treatment. Frequently, administrative conferences about medical or vocational rehabilitation issues at DLI are converted into mediation sessions to resolve disputes beyond the original vocational rehabilitation or medical issues. Factors to consider in determining if the early initiation of mediation is feasible include: • whether the parties are emotionally ready and motivated to resolve the dispute; and • whether sufficient information has been received to properly evaluate the claim. Parties should also consider “turning points” or changes in the dynamics of a dispute in determining when to mediate. Turning points are specific times, events or results that can influence resolution, such as a deadline for filing an answer or response, scheduled depositions, deadlines for filing motions and/ or the trial calendar. DLI Alternative Dispute Resolution provides mediation services that are impartial, fair and creative. For more information, visit www.doli. state.mn.us/irdspres.html or call DLI's Mark McCrea at (651) 284-5229.
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Notice concerning annual Workers' Compensation Report of Benefits Paid
Beginning with the calendar-year 2006 reporting period, the Department of Labor and Industry will no longer mail paper forms and instructions to insurers and self-insured employers that must file the annual Workers' Compensation Report of Benefits Paid form. Instead, the department will be mailing a letter directing those companies to a Web site to file reports electronically. Letters regarding the 2006 filing will be mailed by Feb. 15; the filing must be completed by April 1. The department is making this change to improve efficiency in the assessment process.