Boy, did I kick up a shit storm this morning (That is my way of saying, “Allow me to clarify”).
Early this morning I posted an article about the most recent meeting of the Workers' Compensation Summit, held in New Orleans on November 29th. I was, as I have done before, simply providing some insight to the discussions that had occurred. These observations were intended as a general overview, and in no way reflected, or were intended to reflect, official positions of any segment of the Summit membership.
I have heard from some people that thought this was an official report from the members of the Summit; it was not. It was my attempt at maintaining transparency in the process while formal summaries and reports were going through their paces. Frankly, I've written about previous Summits in a similar manner and received no objections, as it was largely known that writers other than myself were invited for the express intent of spreading the conversation beyond the four walls of our meeting room.
Additionally, when discussing a concept we are calling “Graduated Indemnity Schedule”, I threw in some “whatfor” numbers simply intended to serve as an example for the idea. No numbers I used represent any official recommendation from anyone – even myself. They were simply offered as a sample. The improved initial benefits, which I may have wrongly labeled as “temporary”, would indeed need to be left in place long enough for an injured worker to heal and adjust. For truly catastrophic cases, we clearly couldn't rush to the second tier of lowered payments. Nothing I said was intended as an absolute. It was, as indicated, presenting a concept worthy of further discussion and debate.
Finally, in that same topic I used the number 60% as a possible level of payment of reduced benefits. If you do not understand at this point the relative potential fluidity of the actual and final number, please go back and re-read the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and final sentences of the previous paragraph. I will wait.
Perhaps our real issue is we need to get out of the temporary and permanent “disability mindsets”.
People who have expressed their displeasure over that number to me today are forgetting a couple key points. Even if a state adopted this idea and used the 60% number, it would be 60% of an improved benefit structure – one without caps. Furthermore, look at your states current maximum weekly indemnity payment, I am willing to bet in many states we are already cutting an injured workers real income by MORE than 60%, FROM DAY ONE. Besides, as I indicated in the article, this concept would best be deployed in a recovery oriented system using advocacy based claims practices.
So, I hope that clarifies things. Go forth and discuss amongst yourselves. Just please stop sending me nasty-grams, and have a wonderful day.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.