OR WCD Says Economic Downturn Requires Additional Expenditure Reductions

                               Salem, OR (CompNewsNetwork) - The economic downturn continues to have a significant impact on Oregon's workers' compensation system, including the Workers' Compensation Division. Revenue from the workers' compensation premium assessment, which funds the division and other workers' compensation programs at DCBS, has declined sharply because of the high unemployment in Oregon. The WCD took several steps in 2009 to offset that revenue shortfall, including cutting spending, not filling vacant positions, and laying off 14 division staff. Since last year, the WCD revenue projections have worsened.

To address this situation, the WCD must make additional expenditure reductions. In late April, the administrator for the WCD notified 13 Workers' Compensation Division employees that they will be laid off. The layoffs are primarily in areas where workload has decreased or where we have identified opportunities for streamlining including investigations and sanctions, operations and records, and compliance.
The division is also evaluating the feasibility of further reductions that will have an impact on customers in the workers' compensation system. These include:
• Outsourcing to the private sector the scheduling of compelled medical examinations, such as medical arbiter
examinations, for injured workers.
• Eliminating the department's facilitation of 90-day conferences when a worker is not yet in a vocational
assistance plan.
In addition to staff reductions, the WCD is delaying some resource-heavy technology projects such as electronic reporting of claims.
Oregon's workers' compensation system is extremely successful and often looked at as a model by other
states. Although this economy is presenting challenges, the WCD is committed to maintaining critical programs that Oregon's workers and employers depend on.

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