On October 4 and 5, 2018, the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board held its Annual meeting in Anchorage and presented their 2017 Annual Report.
Director Marx consistently focused on the “why” in this meeting, which is to promote quick, efficient and predictable benefits at a reasonable cost to employers. In addition to this, she provided positive metrics for key result areas. She mentioned all self-insured employers/companies are now 100% EDI live and identified some House Bill 79 highlights.
The Board Members were highly engaged and well represented at the meeting where they approved Proposed Regulation Amendments to the Medical Fee Schedule under 8AAC 45.083, which should proceed through the regulation process for Governor review in 2019. There are also eight Board seats that will be expiring in 2019, with seven of those representing industry seats.
Key findings from the 2017 Report show that Indemnity represented 30% of loss cost distribution and Medical represented 69%. The Board data reflects that Alaskan employers are 74% insured, while 26% are self-insured businesses. Annual reports were provided by the Special Investigations Unit, Reemployment Benefits Unit, Adjudications Unit, and on SIME Evaluations.
The Board has spent time capturing more reliable outcome data regarding the Reemployment Benefit Costs that represented $11,628,481 on claims in 2017. The data reflects that in 2017, 538 injured workers were referred for evaluations for eligibility of reemployment benefits. Of the 538 injured workers, 137 were found eligible, and 28 plans (5%) were executed. In addition, job dislocation benefits were taken by 58 injured workers.
Bill Soule, Chief of Adjudications, highlighted three Supreme Court Decisions published in 2018 including Burke v. Raven Electric, Inc., 420 P.3d 1196 (Alaska 2018: Death benefit), Kang v. Mullins, 42- P.3d 1210 (Alaska 2018: Nature of work test), and Harrold-Jones v. Drury, 422 P.3d 568 (Alaska 2018: Civil case, HIPPA, Ex Parte Communication).
The Board spent the remainder of the meeting vetting and initiating the process for new proposed regulation changes to come through the regulation process. The meeting was efficient and highlighted the good work that is being done at the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Department.