Workers' Compensation Committee Update

September 15, 2009

Board Releases Revised Medical Report Forms

The Workers' Comp Board released a revised set of C4 forms at the end of August. Modifications include minor additions such as the addition of the WCB Buffalo district office location; a new centralized fax number; and new spaces to accommodate the Billing Group and/or Practice Name. Use of these revised forms is not yet mandatory.

While these changes do not appear substantive in nature, The Business Council is interested in hearing of your concerns with the family of forms in their current iteration. Prior to this August 2009 release, substantive revisions were made to these forms, aimed at implementing recommendations from the Rocket Docket workgroup formed after the 2007 reforms were enacted. It is likely form revisions will be required as a result of ongoing 2007 reform workgroup recommendations related to implementing the medical treatment guidelines and loss of wage earning capacity aspects of reform, so it would be helpful to know any concerns members have with these forms to ensure we are alerting the Board as revisions are undertaken.

Senate Labor Committee Hosts Public Hearing on Recording Testimony 

Senator George Onorato will host a public hearing on October 6, 2009, starting at 10 am in New York City to better understand the implications on the proposed use of digital-audio recording by the Workers' Comp Board for its proceedings. The Board has proposed a pilot program to use digital recording as one way to address an ongoing stenographer staffing and recruiting challenge. Concerns have been raised about the accuracy and fairness of using recordings for hearings and appeals, and the Senate Labor Committee is seeking inputfrom interested parties on the fairness and impact on claimants, witnesses and judges on the use of such devices; as well as the impact on New York's court reporting profession.  Those wishing to testify or submit testimony should complete the required information on the notice of public hearing.

Medical Treatment Guidelines: Closer to Implementation

The comment period on the proposed Medical Treatment Guidelines closed September 9, 2009. Business Council members with subject matter expertise, in conjunction with other stakeholders, dedicated significant time to development of version 1.0 of the Guidelines. The Business Council did submit formal comments seeking clarification on whether the Board intends to adopt as regulation, through “incorporation by reference” the Guidelines and the implementation and process standards, as allowed under the State Administrative Procedures Act. The Business Council believes this approach gives the Guidelines and implementation process the force and effect of law. It is anticipated that the Board will announce any revisions made as a part of this comment period by November. The Business Council will continue to monitor the release of the Guidelines and the process by which revisions are made.

Other 2007 Reform Implementation Issues

As work on the medical treatment guidelines concludes, other workgroups are being convened to provide recommendations on how to calculate the Loss of Wage Earning Capacity and to advise on the use of functional capacity evaluations in the workers' compensation process. Indications are that recommendations within the Department of Labor's Return to Work report issued in 2008 will be more fully vetted for actionable items. Business Council staff will continue to keep members apprised as these issues progress.

What's Ahead for 2010? 

With so many business issues on the agenda for our members, don't miss the opportunity to join Business Council members at our Annual Meeting, September 30-October 2 in Rochester.  You will hear from key legislators on the future of state economic development incentive programs; from legislative leadership on ways they anticipate addressing New York State's budget deficits; and Governor Paterson and Comptroller DiNapoli on their statewide perspectives for “One New York”.