Joint Committee Hears Testimony on Worker’s Compensation Bills

Last week, a joint public hearing of the Assembly and Senate Labor committees was held on AB 711 and Senate Bill 550. These companion bills were forwarded to the legislature by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, a council made up of management and labor representatives who negotiate worker’s compensation policy changes. This Council has been advising the legislature on worker’s compensation policy since the law’s inception in 1911.

The bill negotiated this session is historic. For the first time in 103 years the bill establishes cost controls for medical care in workman’s compensation. Because of the cost control measures in the bill, health care providers have coalesced in opposition to the bill. Members of a new group, the Wisconsin Coalition on Worker’s Compensation, attended and testified at the hearing to share why this bill is necessary and will be better for businesses in Wisconsin.
AB 711 and Senate Bill 550 would establish cost controls in the system by implementing a fee schedule for medical costs by mid-year 2015. Once this fee schedule is established it should save employers up to $1 billion on their worker’s compensation costs over the next 10 years.

Wisconsin would join forty-four states other states with fee schedules that limit escalating medical costs of claims. However, while many states tie their fee schedule to Medicare, this proposal is a private, market-based solution. The council bill sets the fees to 10% ABOVE group health negotiated rates. With Wisconsin’s group health rates already higher than most other states, this fee schedule allows for payments well above most other worker’s compensation payments across the country.

Graphs displaying the cost disparities compared with other states can be found here.

You can find more information about the legislation at the Wisconsin Coalition on Worker’s Compensation website.