Workers’ Compensation Reform: Roll Up Our Sleeves And Get The Job Done


Special Notice: This is now the subject of a CompTalk Radio Program. You may listen to Commissioner Sviggum talk about this project here.

This editorial was authored by Minnesota DOLI Commissioner Sviggum, and deals with upcoming Workers' Compensation reform.

St Paul, MN (CompNewsNetwork) - EDITORIAL -  As the 2008 legislative session continues and the Capitol halls buzz with activity, the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is preparing workers' compensation reform proposals for the 2009 session.

I believe these initiatives will be critically important to all employees, employers, insurers and providers. And, it is my hope they will lead to balanced and thoughtful reform of our workers' compensation system.

Recently, I appointed members to serve on four newly created workers' compensation advisory work groups. I have asked them to roll up their sleeves and focus on ways to improve the workers' compensation system so that we can best serve our state's injured workers and the businesses that pay the premium.

The work groups feature a variety of statewide stakeholders from labor, business, insurance, health care providers and the legislative branch. The groups will meet monthly and will report their recommendations to DLI's statutorily appointed Workers' Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), which consists of both business and labor members. The WCAC would in turn develop its proposal based on the input from all stakeholders.

We are also inviting workers' compensation experts from other states who have conducted similar types of reforms to share their perspectives and give guidance to the work groups. From California to Nebraska, I am thrilled at the chance to hear and learn first-hand from these leaders about how they improved their process to streamline the system.

Let me share with you some details about the four working groups.

The first is the Work Group on Billing and Auditing Processes. This group will focus on medical cost containment in our workers' compensation system and the billing hassles and "ping pong" game associated with workers' compensation. It will make policy and operations recommendations about the billing process, automation of billing, compensability, pay-for-performance, post-audit process, repricing professional code of conduct and regulation of industry. It will also seek to find efficient and effective improvements to the administrative processes of medical service reimbursement. The group will make its recommendations to the WCAC by Sept. 1, 2008.

The second is the Work SubGroup on Repricing Industry. It will review the need for a professional code of conduct and regulation of the repricing industry within Minnesota's system. This work subgroup will provide its recommendations to the Billing and Auditing Processes Work Group by July 1, 2008.

The third is the Work Group on Employer Choice Health Care Benefits. It will focus on an employer choice workers' compensation system and continuation of health care benefits for injured employees post-FMLA regulation. This work group will research these questions and others:  Will it work? Is it efficient and fair treatment of an injured employee? What are the weaknesses? It will make its recommendations to the WCAC by Oct. 1, 2008.

The fourth is the Work Group on Vocational Rehabilitation. It will focus on current practices of qualified rehabilitation counselors, comparing statutorily defined vocational rehabilitation to actual practice, cost containment reforms, pay for performance standards, and evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation. It will make its recommendations to the WCAC by Aug. 1, 2008.

In addition to the work groups, DLI will work with its stakeholders to improve and streamline the system's dispute resolution processes and reduce frustration for injured workers and businesses that pay the worker's compensation bill.

While change is a common promise in state government, please know our agency and its stakeholders are moving forward to improve our state's workers' compensation system. For work group meeting times and dates, visit

Thank you for your commitment and leadership to making our workers' compensation system better for the injured employee and employer. If you have a reform idea, please send me an e-mail message at and I will pass it along to our work groups.

Special Notice: This is now the subject of a CompTalk Radio Program. You may listen to Commissioner Sviggum talk about this project here.

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