Workers' Compensation Advisory Council Dec.

14, 2005 minutes
Voting members: Don Gerdesmeier Mike Hickey Glen Johnson Tom Hesse for David Olson Reed Pollack Gary Thaden Brad Lehto for Ray Waldron Voting members excused: Wayne Ellefson Julie Schnell Voting members absent: Stan Daniels Brad Robinson James Cavanaugh Nonvoting members: Sen. Tom Bakk Rep. Denny McNamara Rep. Mike Nelson Nonvoting members absent: Sen. Geoff Michel Staff members: Jamie Anderson Scott Brener Debbie Caswell Jim Feckey Nancy Leppink Patricia Todd Teri Van Hoomissen Visitors: Craig Anderson; MWCIA Bruce Anderson; State Representative Paul Cassidy; Leonard, Street Liz Carpenter; MPHA Colleen Colburn; MCA Dan Hawkins; Target Corp. Tammy Lohman; Commerce Bob Lund; State Fund Andy Morrison; Koll, Morrison John Nesse; MDPA Mary Pixler; MAPS Katy Sen; House DFL Research Elizabeth Shrogen; AFL-CIO

Commissioner Scott Brener called the meeting to order at 9:53 a.m. Roll was called. A quorum was present on both sides. II. Approval of the minutes from the Nov. 9, 2005 meeting Don Gerdesmeier made a motion to amend the minutes from the Nov. 9, 2005, meeting on page 3, the third paragraph, to read, “Brener agreed to include these two issues for consideration as the WCAC moves toward a 2006 WCAC bill.” Glen Johnson seconded the motion. All voted in favor of the motion and it passed.

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Glen Johnson made a motion to approve the minutes from the Nov. 9, 2005 meeting, as amended. Reed Pollack seconded the motion. All voted in favor of the motion and it passed. Agenda – Bruce Anderson wishes to be on the agenda regarding issues from the last meeting. IV. A. Commissioner's update Brener bid farewell to Jamie Anderson, the department’s legislative liaison. She will be leaving for private practice. He is conducting interviews and hopes to replace her by next month. Brener announced the pharmacy rules would be mailed to members Friday. The new rules create an incentive to move from a paper process to an electronic process and ties to a lower reimbursement rate. Brener discussed future issues. Ray Waldron sent him a letter regarding issues the AFL-CIO wishes to discuss in greater detail. Brad Lehto distributed copies of the letter to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) members. The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) will review the recommendations. Lehto asked about the North Dakota reciprocity agreement issue in Waldron’s letter. Brener asked for information about anyone experiencing problems. The MWCIA has approached DLI about modifying the cancellation notification timeframe from 60 days to 30 days. IV. B. Pure premium base rate and the insurance marketplace Craig Anderson presented information about the difference between pure premium base rates versus the premium paid by an employer. He distributed a handout and discussed the following factors: • • • • • pure premium base rate level; insurance company filed rate schedule; additional surcharges and price increases; additional price decreases; and individual risk rating and pricing.

There was general discussion about the contractors premium adjustment plan in the construction industry. The plan was instituted more than 10 years ago. This program reallocates premium from higher to lower average wage paying contractors. Each contractor receives information about this program on a yearly basis. Sen. Tom Bakk inquired about the impact of rising medical costs on premium rates. Anderson replied that medical costs are increasing in the workers’ compensation system faster than they are in the general health care system. Traditionally, indemnity was the larger portion of the benefits paid, but this has recently changed to medical being the larger portion.

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Rep. Bruce Anderson Rep. Bruce Anderson asked the WCAC to look at a constituent’s concerns regarding the workers’ compensation system; specifically, the payment of medical bills, the high cost of attorney fees and the need for prior approval for certain medical procedures. He stated his constituent might attend the next meeting to share his frustration. Gary Thaden asked that DLI have additional meetings with the employee before he comes to the council and refer him to the Lawyers’ Board of Professional Responsibility if he is not happy with the way his attorney is handling his case. This should be done before he comes in February. Bakk thanked Rep. Anderson for bringing this issue forth, because there is a lot of frustration with the workers’ compensation system and injured employees cannot get through without an attorney. He asked for a chronological summary of what the person went through during the past few years. Hickey suggested that if the person comes, someone from DLI be here to give the other side, so they can make an assessment about what findings were made and why. IV. D. Clarification of data practices in chapters 13, 175 and 176 Nancy Leppink spoke regarding data practices changes DLI is working on as part of this year’s legislation. In the early 1970s, there was the broadly held belief that all government information in the Data Practices Act should be public unless made private. In recent years, the approach toward data practices has switched to making more data private and less data public, as indicated in the Supreme Court Westrom decision. Therefore, DLI needs to clarify what data is public versus private. Workers’ compensation data is often very sensitive. Therefore, DLI is shifting its assumption that workers’ compensation data is private unless made public and is drafting language about the privacy of workers’ compensation data. Thaden heard there would be a data practices bill and suggested DLI include its provisions in that bill. Leppink said she is keeping this in the workers’ compensation bill, because there are a number of players and DLI plays a unique role as the repository for workers’ compensation data. IV. C. Intervention Patricia Todd announced she attended two meetings with intervenors in November with judges and their staffs from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and various parties involved in the intervention process. The following suggestions came out of those meetings: • • provide enhanced information on the DLI and OAH Web sites; train interveners about workers’ compensation and how it impacts intervenors, how to intervene and how to evaluate and respond to an offer of settlement; and

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improve communications between attorneys and intervenors.

Brener noted the next meeting is set for Feb. 8, 2005, and asked members if they would need a meeting before that. Thaden suggested the chairpersons for the labor and management representatives should meet with the commissioner prior to the meeting. It was decided a March meeting may be necessary; Deb Caswell was to find a date. Lehto asked if the department had any further contact with Dr. Lee. DLI evaluated the concerns highlighted in Dr. Lee’s letter and noted they are similar to those of Rep. Anderson’s constituent. Thaden made a motion to adjourn at 11:05 a.m. Tom Hesse seconded the motion. All voted in favor of the motion and it passed. Respectfully submitted, Debbie Caswell Executive Secretary dc/s