Workers' Compensation Committee Update, February 23, 2010

The NYS Senate Labor Committee will be hosting a public hearing tomorrow, February 24, 2010, on the Workers' Compensation Board's "Managed Adjudication Path" process. As of this writing, the Labor Committee has sixteen individuals giving testimony at the hearing, with others having submitted testimony in advance of the hearing.

What is MAP?

Although the Board has described MAP as the implementation of internal business improvement processes, concerns have been raised by stakeholders in the workers' compensation system as to whether MAP compromises due process rights of both employers and injured workers. Others have raised concerns that the lack of information available and stakeholder outreach about MAP makes it challenging at best to understand exactly what the WCB is implementing to effectively comment on its impact.

In a meeting with WCB staff last week to get clarity on whether MAP as conceived by the Board is conciliation, as authorized under WCL Section 25(2-B), the Board provided a copy of a Chairman's response to a NYS Bar Association inquiry on MAP. This response provides greater detail on which types of cases the Board will not be subject to the the MAP process. Additionally, in response to a concern raised by a member on whether MAP will apply to cases with an expected benefit duration of greater than 52 weeks, the WCB staff referenced an Albany Supreme Court ruling which provides the authority for conciliation to be used in cases beyond the 52 week benefit timeframe within the statute.

What's Next?

Conciliation is a useful tool and can be one path to achieve savings, when implemented within statutory parameters. The Board's data showed 30,802 claims handled through the conciliation process in 2006, almost 30% of all claims established in that year.

The Business Council will be testifying at the hearing and I welcome any thoughts members may have on this issue. Given the dearth of information readily available on MAP, we have invited WCB staff to meet with the Workers' Compensation Committee of BCNYS to discuss the process they envision and to engage in a frank dialog with members on this topic. Stay tuned for that meeting date, anticipated in early March.