Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Final WCAC Workers’ Compensation Proposed Amendments

On March 2, the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) had its final meeting. The full report is available here. At the meeting, the WCAC voted unanimously for several proposed amendments. These proposed amendments will be reviewed and voted on by the Minnesota legislature. Some of the proposed changes include:
  • Rehabilitation Services. The employer will not be required to pay for more than six months of job placement services per rehabilitation plan, or for the cost of more than 20 hours of job placement services per month, unless pre-approved by the employer and/or insurer.
  • Independent Medical Exams. IME’s shall not be conducted in a hotel or motel. (This one seems to be a no-brainer…)
  • Penalties. An employer and/or insurer may not offset an overpayment against medical expenses or a penalty awarded to the employee.
  • Hearings. Hearings must be held within 2 years after initiation of the claim unless the chief judge orders otherwise.
These proposed changes, by and large, are reasonable, and comparatively moderate. Several of the other original proposed changes were radical or just plain bad. Some of the original proposals included:
  • Penalty for improper medical bill collection activities by medical providers who are aware that there is a dispute over workers’ compensation benefits. (I actually think this proposal would be a good idea).
  • Elimination of total temporary wage loss benefits for undocumented workers. I wrote about this horrible proposal earlier, here.
  • Presumption of intoxication, and that intoxication is the proximate cause of the injury, if the employee’s blood alcohol concentration within two hours of the time of the injury is 0.08 or more.
  • Mandatory mediation through the workers’ compensation system.
  • Occupational Injury Leave Act.
  • Workers’ Compensation Collaborative including an Ombudsman.
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